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!

Tips for finding the right care home from industry insider Janis McFarlane

What do you enjoy the most about working in care home industry?
I enjoy working with people from all walks of life, residents and their families, managers and staff and related health professionals. No two days are ever the same; each day brings something different and a new challenge to be solved. I particularly enjoy teaching staff and showing them that excellent quality care can and is provided within care homes. Observing staff develop their confidence, skills and meaningful relations with residents brings a smile to my face and gives me the “oomph” to carry on promoting care in care homes, deal with suppliers, develop policies and manage the accounts!

What are the most important qualities a care home professional should have?Apartment building in the city with a spectacular sky
A genuine desire to care, we can teach our staff many things including how to be a professional care person, we cannot teach staff how to be “caring” that is inbuilt in the person.
Respect for other peoples beliefs and choices in life whether we agree or not, being able to support someone to carry on with their wishes that you don’t personally agree with is difficult especially for young care givers.
Compassion, understanding and patience all very easy to say, but far more difficult to deliver if they are not inherent qualities.
The ability to work with the ethos, we work in our residents’ homes they do not live in our work place. Lastly, a sense of humour, the ability to enjoy and have pride in being a professional care giver is essential.
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? 
Visit many homes and visit the same home on different days at different times without the need for an appointment with the manager. Speak with residents of the home if possible; find out if they enjoy living there. Observe the staff interactions with the residents and go by your own instinct and feelings. Ask many questions and go prepared with a list of all you want to know no matter how trivial you may think they are, every little detail is important to you and your loved one.
If you were given money and resources to set up a research group, what would you research on the UK care home industry?
Where do all the teaspoons go? Only joking!
Possibly the healing of pressure ulcers that have not developed in the care home or the experiences of relatives concerning “a good death”. I think care homes bench mark themselves against external standards of other organisations and there are many areas of care that external organisations should bench mark against good care homes.

What is the key issue facing the care home industry in this country?
Finance, sustainability and a wider understanding publically of what we do well, what we are expected and required to do, what we wish to do and the financial restraints we face in being able to deliver what we are capable of doing. We are caring for more complex care needs not just in elderly care, we have seen an increase in the need for care of younger people with long term complex needs as a result of trauma and substance misuse entering care homes, we can deliver the care, we can meet their needs however we need reasonable fee structures to enable us to do so. A healthy dose of respect for our services wouldn’t go amiss and whilst bad news sells newspapers a readdressing of the balance of good news stories would be appreciated!

care-home-Janis McFarlane

Janis McFarlane has worked in the care sector for 33 years, she was also trained as a registered general nurse in Fife and worked within the NHS in Fife and Forth Valley in acute areas before embarking on a journey over the last 23 years within the independent care sector that has seen many, many changes in that time. During that time, she has worked as a home manager, regional and senior regional manager and her current role is Director of Operations with The Holmes Care (Group) Ltd. Her passion is end of life care, we don’t get a second chance to get this right, and to be with someone at the end of their life is a privilege. Her aim is to continue to break down myths and barriers surrounding what happens in a care home and to facilitate our managers and their teams through learning and empowerment to provide the very best experience and memories for residents and their families that we possibly can.

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.

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.

Ale Brewery in partnership with Care Homes

care-home-couple-drink

Residents at Colten Care homes in Hampshire and east Dorset will be able to sample real ales thanks to a new unique partnership with Ringwood Brewery. The Hampshire-based brewery will help activities organisers at 15 homes to lead tasting sessions. It will also provide tasting kits and samples to for beer festivals and a variety of other events held at the homes.

care-home-ale

Speaking at the launch of the partnership, Paddy O ‘Driscoll, catering manager at Colten Care, said: “This is all about enabling our residents to continue enjoying the good beer they love in a safe, responsible environment. We have traditionally put a lot of focus on choosing quality wines and sherries – now we can give a further choice to those residents who prefer a good beer instead, whether it’s just a sip or a pint. It’s also nice for relatives and visitors who like a drink of beer.”

Head brewer Jeff Drew is excited about the new partnership. He said: “We think it is a great way for two local businesses to work together. Many people in care homes will prefer real ale to wine and so deserve the chance to have it brought directly to them.”