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.

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

Cost of care home room on the rise

The cost of a room in care homes has gone up by 9.3 per cent  since two years ago. In the last year alone the cost pensioners fork out for care rose by 3.5%, said Prestige Nursing+Care.

care-home-Cost of care home room on the riseThe organisation, which provides temporary staff for nursing and care roles, said that since 2012 the average annual cost of a single room in a residential care home in England and Wales has risen by £963 to £28,367. This is £2,414 higher than in 2011. A spokesman for the company, which assessed the costs of 165 private residential care homes, said that the gap between pensioners’ annual income and care costs “continues to increase”.

The south east is the most expensive region for elderly care homes with an annual cost of £32,048. This is £7,405 more a year than in the north east where prices are lowest. The spokesman said that t he average cost of a room in a care home is more than double the average pensioner income of £13,799.

Jonathan Bruce, managing director of Prestige Nursing+Care, said: “As the cost of care continues to outpace pensioner income, pensioners’ shrinking savings pots are contributing to the worrying financial conundrum of how later life care can be funded.“While the Government’s proposed care cap will help some older people, they will still have to incur a significant financial outlay to reach the cap. We need to ensure the population are care cost-savvy so better financial planning can take place earlier on in life. The key to this is greater provision of information and greater understanding.”

Thousands of care homes face huge debt

One in three care home businesses is at risk of going bust due to ‘off-the-scale’ levels of borrowing, according to research published today. An examination of the accounts of nearly 5,000 companies, responsible for 20,000 care homes across the UK, will ring alarm bells following the collapse of Southern Cross.

care-home-wheelchair,Thousands of care homes face huge debt

Formerly the largest operator in the sector, Southern Cross went under in 2011 when it was unable to pay a £250million rent bill, bringing misery and anxiety to more than 30,000 elderly residents and their families.

The report, compiled by Company Watch – a specialist in assessing the financial strength of firms – suggests that hundreds of smaller operators are at similar risk. Of the firms it surveyed, 1,449 were placed in its ‘Warning Area’ after being considered ‘financially vulnerable’ and at high risk of going under. The research also found that almost 700 care home companies are ‘zombie’ businesses, with liabilities worth more than their assets. Their combined negative net worth came in at £217million.

The investigation found that the average care home has ‘unusually high’ gearing levels at 82 per cent. Gearing measures debt as a proportion of a company’s net assets.