How to look for a care home

 

Finding-care-homes

When searching for a care home locally, whether it is for yourself or your loved ones, it is utmost important that the person feels comfortable in their choice and that the home has the absolute right ambiance as well as facilities to meet all required needs. In the UK alone, there are more than thousands of care homes available providing various types of care. Subsequently, there are many ways to find the right care home one needs; major care home providers offers search services and many other directory services out there can help as well, for instance, Bupa, Sunrise and CareUK all provide excellent customer services.

Many people would prefer to phone or write to a number of homes and ask about the level of care provided, the fees and the waiting list. On top of the information collected, it is also very important to visit the homes that seem promising. Our editor Ray Stephens have recently found a specialised online service from bestukcarehomes.com that helps people looking for care homes around the UK.

Last but not least, one should always check the quality inspection reports from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) or the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in Northern Ireland.

Unfair government policy for the elderly

elderly would suffer from unfair policyAccording to a recent report, new drugs would only be licensed for the NHS if they help those judged to be a benefit to wider society under proposals from the health watchdog. Pharmaceutical firms warned the move could mean that new medicines being denied to the elderly.With the new policy taking place, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence will have to take into account ‘wider societal benefits’ alongside the cost of medication and its life-enhancing properties. Many industry experts expressed concern that vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, may lose out because they do not contribute as much to society as younger people.

Scuttlebutt from sources close to the Health Secretary insisted that the proposal was at an early stage and that he would intervene if the elderly were being discriminated against. This is irresponsible scaremongering based on pure speculation about a consultation that has not even started. It is absolutely not true to say that older people will not get treatment because of their age. For us, we will wait and see.

 

One book that will change how you look for care homes

Best Guide to UK Care Homes‘ is the book that you cannot afford to miss in 2014!

best uk care homes guide 2014

This copy, which is the No. 1 recommended guide by various UK Care Homes experts, has been completely updated and revised for 2014. Written by 3 leading care home experts from Harvard University, the London School of Economics and myself, this volume covers all the key questions concerning various elderly care options available in the UK today, choosing different types of care, care funding advice, care home check-list and FAQs.

It is available in the Top 10 best-sellers under ‘Ageing Parents’ category on Amazon now. The book has special Kindle enabled features. However, this copy does NOT require an Amazon kindle device. It can be read on your computer, or even on your iPhone, or Blackberry, or Android phone, or Windows 7 phone, or any tablet devices!

Caroline urges for more resident-centred care homes

What are the most important qualities a care home professional should have?

The answers are all in the title really.

Firstly, they need to care.  They need to care about all of the people they work with, both colleagues and residents. They should be compassionate and attentive. Care home professionals need to find out about each other and those they care for as individuals.  Everyone needs to ensure they know what is meant by ‘person-centred care’.  It’s about everyone in that environment. They need to be egalitarian and treat other people, fairly, with respect and kindness.  Anyone working with other people needs to be in touch with their own feelings, to be able to empathise with others and have good listening skills. They are not looking after relics in a museum they are caring for and working with some very special people.

Secondly, the place they work in is a ‘home’ not just a work-place. People who work in care homes should emanate a sense of intimate security to add to the atmosphere of being at home.  In just the same way as they run their own homes they need to be flexible in their organisation of meals etc. to allow for personal choices and requirements. Staff need to bring a feeling of domesticity in to the building, where everyone is involved in helping to get the ‘jobs’ done.  Maintaining the opportunities for meaningful occupation.  A care home should not feel like a hospital or a hotel.

Care home professionals should be professional and by that I mean that they should respect their own profession.  They should be keen learners that are motivated to keep up to date with information available, on research and models of care etc.  We need reflective practitioners who are not afraid to admit that they have made mistakes; that they are still learning, along with the rest of us. We need people who are resourceful, open to new innovations and ready to change their models of care for the benefit of those using their services. Changes cannot happen if they are treated like a ‘quick fix’. It takes time to ensure that the desired outcomes are recognised and worked towards as a long term goal.  It takes a team of professional people who recognise the strengths and weaknesses of each member and encourages each person to take part in achieving those outcomes.

We are asking for a lot from care home professionals, we need to recognise this and ensure that we are giving back what they deserve.  Allowing care staff to work set hours, so that they can plan their home lives accordingly, and allowing them to be salaried would be a good start.

 

What are some of the areas that the care home industry can improve?

My work takes me into a variety of care home settings and the ones that strike me as getting it right are those where they work as a team.  I’m talking about housekeepers, gardeners, activity co-ordinators, kitchen staff, management, office workers, everybody working together to give the best service they can.  These are the places where I can recognise true person-centred care, where everyone matters.

To enable all of the staff to give of their best, there is a real need for training. The government are making headway through Dementia Friends to ensure that the general public dementia aware.  This puts the onus on our profession to ensure that all staff are trained beyond the stage of ‘dementia aware’.  It is beneficial for the care home to have staff fully trained in Cognitive Stimulation and confident in the appropriate usage of Reality Orientation and Reminiscence Therapy.

Care home managers triumph when they invite staff, visitors and residents to look at the home with new eyes, encouraging feedback on any improvements that can be made to the environment.  Looking for ways of enabling residents to remain independent for longer or items which will stimulate feelings or conversations.  It’s wonderful to see these ideas in practice in some of the homes I have visited.   This is where staff can be at their most resourceful, lots of these ideas are cheap and cheerful.  The environment can benefit dramatically when we implement small changes which will enhance the quality of life for those living and working in the home.

 

What is the key issue facing the care home industry in this country?

I know I’m going to leave myself wide open to an onslaught of disagreements here.  I know so many people will say it is a lack of funding.  Whilst I acknowledge that this is a factor, I honestly think the key issue in this country is the number of care home owners and managers who truly believe they are doing a good job when the simple truth of the matter is that they are not delivering person-centred care in the true sense.

There are, of course, lots of owners and managers in the industry who are doing a fabulous job, but, if you asked them what they would do to improve their care homes, they wouldn’t look at you ‘gob-smacked’ and tell you that they believe they have one of the best in the area.  They are the people who will immediately give you a list of goals they would like to incorporate in to their homes and also tell you what research they would like to know more about.

Sadly, there are still too many who have been doing the job for a long time and haven’t learnt anything new in the process, they are still constantly playing music from the 1930s – 1940s because they believe that is what their residents want to listen to. They haven’t asked the residents. They fail to explore the possibility of someone liking Cliff Richard, Barbara Streisand, The Isley Brothers, or, heaven forbid, Abba,  (dare I even mention Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin or London Grammar)and yet there are many people living in care homes today who’s popular music tastes don’t include ‘Roll out the barrel’.  Personal tastes in music are as varied as the different genres available.

So many managers just want to ‘tick the box’ for training their employees in dementia care.  They only want the very basic awareness course, they’re not interested in courses about ‘Activities’ because they already do bingo twice a week and they have someone in once a fortnight to run armchair exercises. (Oh, and once a month a man comes in and sings to them).  They don’t have art materials, or poetry books, a video player in the lounge, or pens to do the crosswords in the paper. There are no dolls to be seen, or pets in the home.  In fact there is very little of any interest in the rooms at all.  The managers will ask ‘Do you do a course for behaviour problems, or how to restrain difficult residents?’  They don’t appreciate that improved environments will reduce these problems drastically, allowing them to concentrate on the niche requirements of individuals (perhaps something as simple as a doll or teddy bear to cuddle, or someone to talk to for a while at certain times of the day). They have very little understanding of how individuals with dementia can be helped to make sense of what is going on around them.

Activity Co-ordinators are crying out for training which is relevant to their role, their managers however, are spending the money on flower arrangements in the reception area.  They haven’t even thought about finding out if there is a lady who did the flower arranging for church each Sunday living in their home. There are too many care homes still working to timetables, with the importance placed on what the home looks like to visitors rather than models of care which have been adapted to suit the choices of their current residents.

If we wish to make any inroads into improved care for older people we need to listen to what people want for themselves in their new homes, as well as employing staff who engage with customers, people who endeavour to understand and facilitate the personal needs of those living with dementia.

care-home-caroline-benham

 

Caroline Benham has extensive experience in the care home industry, worked for Anchor in the past and currently a volunteer for Alzheimer’s. She is currently studying towards a degree on Dementia Studies while working as a dementia care trainer.

 

Have you found your care home in August?

Have you found your care home in August? CareHomesJournal aims to bring you the latest news of your interest!

Dr. Raja shares his passion and knowledge with CHJ

What do you enjoy the most about working in care home industry?

For me, working in the care industry is a passion and a vocation giving me an opportunity to make a positive difference to the lives of vulnerable people every day whilst affording me a tremendous amount of satisfaction and achievement. Of course, it is incredibly challenging but because of the diversity and uniqueness of every person we support and the situations faced, no one day is the same and its great to be able to apply my passion and creativity with a team equally as dedicated and driven, to achieve positive outcomes.
What is the key issue facing the care home industry in this country?

Senior couple at home with many bills

Clearly the main headline grabber is rightly the underfunding of the sector whilst costs escalate. This takes providing excellent services to the breaking point where staff aren’t paid meaningfully and services cannot be further invested in to improve. To make matters worse, the ever changing and ever increasing burdens of bureaucracy and red tape are stifling at best and confusing and demotivating at worst.

There are examples of good quality services that have closed and are facing distress. Staff morale and improvements within others are problematic and the media’s negative portrayal of the sector is disheartening. The threats and challenges from all sides diminish further the capacity and resilience to continue the fight to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society. Everybody in the sector is affected from front line care staff through management to owners and directors. In fact the sector deserves credit more than ever for its compassion, warmth and care when it feels very exploitative since so much is built upon the extra mile….. above and beyond that is given by those, most often women, that enter the profession because of a heartfelt commitment to caring.

In a world where austerity rules supreme where government support is reducing and health costs are rising, how challenging has it been for the care home industry? What are some steps you home have taken to manage through the current climate of economic uncertainty?


We have focussed our efforts even more on being closer to service users and front line staff and to empower and support them to assist in maintaining excellent relationships and communication which helps to improve the service experienced by all. We have applied technology to take the burden of many aspects that previously distracted from the time and costs of managing and administering the service including introduction of computer systems, iPads and mobile phones for remote staff which link in with planning and finance.

We have streamlined and restructured our management and moved more people from the office out into the places where people receive care and support and have adopted management functions that break away from service lines but are more responsive in terms of the support people and the organisation needs.

What are some of the areas that the care home industry can improve?

Individual homes and organisations have often been isolated and very bunkered in their outlook and it is now more important than ever for greater unity in the sector. From keeping in touch with local providers, sharing knowledge and resources through to formal membership of local and national trade associations, will help keep knowledge up to date with best and innovative practice whilst possibly opening up opportunities for growth and development and reduction of costs and improving quality as a result.

We as a sector need to celebrate success better. So much happens day in day out within our services we provide yet we too are modest and humble to the point that the only stories that are heard are the bad ones. We should shout from the rooftops about our achievements and success and make sure the local community is engaged and aware of what we do. So many of us hold and take part in Open days, craft fairs, are involved with local churches, colleges and other community groups and activities for example but how many of these feature in news articles let alone interviews?

A strong unified voice representing providers in the sector, sending clear messages to stakeholders including the public as well as commissioners and the government is needed now more than ever and Care England will undoubtedly build on the success of the National Care Association and the English Community Care Association following merger on the 1st january 2014 and will help shape the sector in a way that works for service users and service providers.

 

Care-home-asif-raja

 

Dr. Asif Raja bio:

A lifelong commitment to health and social care has seen Dr Raja apply himself to make a positive difference as a founder and Managing Director of SummerCare. He has championed improvements in the quality of services and is a Director of the National Care Association, a Board Member of the Care England Transition Board, trustee of Shields people parliament, Board Member of the National Leadership Forum and a member of the steering group of the Driving up Quality Alliance.

care-home-great british care awardsHe was recognised as the Best Employer in the country by The Great British Care Awards in 2013 as well as for excellence in customer service in the 2013 Business Awards as well as for his contribution to the community in the 2012 Business Awards.  A prominent national contribution has seen him recognised as one of the top 30 Social Care Leaders in the country as well as a Care Personality in the National Care Awards 2012.

More to come on ‘Interviews with Experts’ at CHJ

Care industry entrepreneur Udhi Silva emphasises ‘cost control’

 

What do you enjoy the most about working in care home industry?

Albeit I support the care industry with cost savings what I love about this industry is the dedication and passion those people that work in care settings have for their clients. I am honestly overwhelmed by some of the nurses, managers and carers I have met and the extent that they treat their clients as though they are their own family. It is very rare to come across people who have such admiration for the work they do and a lot of other industries can benefit from learning about this. One thing that is evident within the corporate side of the industry is that attention to standards is second to none.

 

What are some of the areas that the care home industry can improve?

Cost control. Over the last couple of years we have seen some fantastic organisations go under due to bad management and a neglect on resources and poor financial management. I have worked with several multi site and individual care homes and I regularly uncover savings in excess off 20-50% off their janitorial supplies, stationery, toners and utilities. These funds can be reinvested back into the client care to support the needs of our demanding population. Operators need to be more vigilant and focus on controlling cost without compromising on quality.

 

What are some steps you home have taken to manage through the current climate of economic uncertainty?

Organisations should adopt savings experts like www.medical-supermarket.com who aim to work with care operators to determine the best value solutions on reducing procurement and sourcing costs and reducing time spent on ordering. Pennies make the pounds and a lot of operators get blinded by trying to struggle to win cost effective deals off the local authorities and then fail to evaluate where back office costs can be reduced without impacting the cost and service for the clients.

 

care-home-Udhi SilvaUdhi Silva, Entrepreneur, Director and Co Founder of Medical Supermarket. HealthCare’s largest one stop shop for consumables, services and equipment.

The first interview with expert!

We are very excited to launch ‘Interview with Experts’ column with an in-depth interview with Daniel Tidmarsh. During the interview, he talked about several key areas of the care home industry, primarily focusing on the human capital side of the business.

What are the most important qualities a care home professional should have?

From my personal experience to work within the care sector and provide an adequate care service I personally believe that one would need the following traits to qualify as a care home professional:

Enthusiasm is one of the most important assets, staff must focus on the job at all times.

Compassion and humanity has to be on the forefront of a nurse’s or member of care staff’s mind. What they do every day has a massive importance on the quality of other people’s lives. They have the clinical expertise, compassion and humanity with which to shape the care and support system which we all take for granted.

Empathy is such a powerful communication tool, 9 times out of 10 it is misunderstood and underused. Effective empathetic communication increases the therapeutic effect of the carer-client relationship massively & is more important than most people realise.

All care givers must have patience with all their service users, there will always be frustrating & difficult situations to deal with, however without the ability to be patient and take a step back the quality of care will be affected massively.

One important characteristic of a carer is the ability to take direction and to work on their own initiative. They must take responsibility for their own actions and above all act in the correct manner adhering to policy’s and procedures laid out by government.

 

What are some of the areas that the care home industry can improve?

Right across the sector in my honest opinion there are fundamental issues that are in need of addressing before the sector as a whole can improve to the level that the general public determine as acceptable and a few areas that need addressing includes funding, wages, training, retention, facilities, listen to clients, families & the closest professionals to the person to ascertain there accurate needs.


To all the people out there looking for a care home for themselves or their loved ones, what is the best advice you would offer?

Some of the best ideas for taking care of  your loved ones often come from other carers, the formula is quite a simple & with the use of technology today, quite an obvious one as well. The internet should and must be your first port of call. Here are a few suggestions I believe will help you no end:

  • Investigate, Investigate, Investigate & use the internet to find out about a home’s quality!
  • Check the CQC reports, they will save you lots of time straight away.
  • Talk to the current residents to see what they have to say about their care and the staff that care for them.
  • The best time to visit a nursing home is around 6 p.m. on a Saturday. Dinner has been served, few if any managers will be in the facility, and it’s likely that you’ll get a true reflection of how the home is run when lowly staffed.
  • What should you look for….. staffing, staffing, staffing. I recommend for a daytime staff patient ratio should be around one to five.
  • Find out if the nursing home uses agency staff and how often they are used. Homes usually use agency staff when they’re desperate short of staff. Sometimes, the agency staffs have to care for 30 or 40 residents they have never even met before.

 

You have spoken very passionately about the job and this industry. What is your personal motivation to work in the care home industry?

I have a younger sister who suffers with a disability that affects girls called Rett Syndrome, her disability has demobilised her completely. She cannot walk, talk, feed herself and she is incontinent but despite all of this she doesn’t let it bring her down, she is always smiling and laughing in her own little world. She is my inspiration for everything thing I do, not just the reason I work in the care industry. If I can make her life a tiny bit better by either putting on her favourite music and dancing around with her or just buying her favourite treat I will 100% do it, she is a beautiful person both inside and out and she makes me want to better myself to make her proud. That’s my reason for being so passionate about the care industry because I live it every day of my life knowing that maybe one day my Mellissa may have to go into a care facility. It is a very real and personal target for me to try my very best to make the care industry a better industry for everyone involved.

 

What do you enjoy the most about working in care home industry?

Job satisfaction, knowing that you’ve helped someone to achieve something that they may not have been able to do without you being there!

 

care-home-Daniel Tidmarsh

A bit about Daniel Tidmarsh

Since leaving school, Daniel has worked effortlessly, learning from professionals and developing his skills through real life experiences. He is a self motivated and driven with a passion to succeed, thrives on a challenge and under pressure.

As a director of Health Care HR, the company was established to be unique in the world of Health Care recruitment & staff training. The main company ethos & aims being driven by the quality of care and standard of living for service users and not for profits as many companies within this industry. For more information on their services please visit online at www.hruk.biz or call 0845 500 4901.

Private care homes are profit driven

Here is another recent article published online about how care home providers are commercially motivated by profit.

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Following the deaths of residents of an Edinburgh care home that police called into, providers cannot be trusted to care for our old and frail relatives, whilst scooping up the very generous Scottish Government free-care-for-the-elderly funding, to line the pockets of shareholders. They just grab the money and provide as little care as they can get away with.care-home-wheelchair-Private care homes are profit driven

I unfortunately had a relative placed in such a care home for a short time three years ago. The home had a very good Care Commission report. At our visit in advance of her moving in, we were shown the best facilities on the sunniest side of the building, where residents requiring the leastamount of care were accommodated.

My sister required the maximum of nursing and personal care for which they charged over £1200 per week. We were promised a special hospital bed and full nursing care. When she arrived she was placed in a tiny, dark room, at the back of the home, with the least sunshine.

No special bed was available, so mattresses were put on the floor to break her fall if she fell out of bed. Her room was in need of decoration, was dirty and smelly as the en-suite toilet extractor system did not work, and the toilet was being used mainly for storage. The room was the furthest away from the nursing station and on our very first visit we arrived to find that my sister was hoarse from screaming out for help, as her alarm system was not working.

Fortunately we were able to move my sister to another Edinburgh care home, the not-for-profit Viewpoint Housing Association St Raphael’s where for the last two years of her life she had the highest possible quality of care provided for the same weekly amount.

This surely is the sort of level of care that all of our relatives should be getting. But sadly there is no doubt in my mind that when the commercial, private providers get the contracts they simply revert to their usual behaviour of putting profit before care for our elderly.

Max Cruickshank, Iona Ridge, Hamilton

Religious beliefs are a load of nonsense

What nonsense from Veronica Wikman about so-called “indoctrination” at religious observance times in Scottish schools (Letters, September 17).

This is untrue and repeating the untruth does not render it any more accurate.

Gus Logan, York Road, North Berwick

Home for Trident . . how about London?

Much has been made, particularly by the “No” campaign about the difficulties of relocating Trident but, it seems to me, by including our friends in the equation, there are numerous possibilities.

The Westminster government could approach Ireland.

They have plenty of deep water inlets and might well be persuaded, provided the site was more than 20 miles from Dublin.

If the Irish said no, what about Norway? They have even more in the way of deep water so perhaps they might oblige if it was not too near Oslo.

Another option might be Iceland, although they may take the view that they have enough in the way of natural explosives in the shape of volcanoes.

What about New Zealand? They have a smaller population than Scotland and close ties to the “Old Country” but oops, I forgot, New Zealand, for some silly reason is non-nuclear.

However, I have carelessly omitted the most obvious choice of all . . . the Thames Estuary.

This is suitably close to England’s largest centre of population, and, as The Act of Union from 1707, Clause VI states: “All parts of the United Kingdom shall have the same Allowances, Encouragements and Drawbacks.”

This poses the question –Why has poor old London missed out on its share of Trident?

Joseph G Miller, Gardeners Street, Dunfermline

care-home-expensive-Private care homes are profit drivenBig-hearted Capital folk work wonders

I AM writing to thank you and your readers for the support you’ve shown so far for British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland shops’ Great British Bag-athon.

BHF shops across the UK are aiming to raise one million bags of unwanted things throughout the month of September so we really need people in the Capital to join in, have a clear out and donate bags of unwanted things to their local BHF Scotland shop.

Taking part is easy, fill up one bag or several with unwanted clothes, shoes, handbags, books, DVDs and homewares and donate to your local BHF Scotland shop.

Every bag your readers fill makes a real difference in the fight for every heartbeat and could be worth £20 to BHF Scotland, helping to fund life-saving research in the fight against heart disease.

If you have lots of things to donate, why not take on a Bag-athon challenge and aim to raise anything from five, ten or even 15 bags for BHF Scotland shops?

You can even ask friends and family to help you reach your target – the more you bag, the more researchers the BHF can fund and the more lives they can save.

For more information on the Great British Bag-athon visit bhf.org.uk/bagathon or pop into your local shop.

Best wishes and good luck!

Pauline Davie, area manager for BHF Scotland shops, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh