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.

 

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.

 

More to come on ‘Interviews with Experts’ at CHJ

Cameron hopes to tackle dementia

 

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt stated that a cure for dementia could be found within 12 year. He also urged that leading nations needed to increase the amount of cash spent fighting the disease in a bid to defeat it for good and would like a cure to be available by 2025.David Cameron promises to tackle dementia

The striking announcement came at the end of a global summit on dementia organised by David Cameron in his role chairing the G8 club of the world’s richest nations.

The PM claimed today was the day ‘the global fightback really started’. He said in the summit that this is disease steals lives, wrecks families and breaks hearts.If we are to beat dementia, we must also work globally, with nations, business and scientists from all over the world working together as we did with cancer, and with HIV and Aids. This is going to be a bigger and bigger issue, the key is to keep pushing.

In the NHS, the aim is to ensure that diagnosis rates rise from below half to more than two-thirds. Mr Hunt likened dementia to how cancer used to be. He said cancer funding for research only started pouring in once we stopped sweeping it under the carpet.

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.

Private care homes are profit driven

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

———-

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

Council care homes run out of favour

The city’s council-managed OAP care homes have 465 residential beds, but only 297 are currently occupied, leaving 168 (40 per cent) vacant spaces. The figures have emerged as Leeds City Council’s decision-making executive board prepares to vote on proposals to close four of the city’s council-run care homes in a bid to streamline services, and ultimately slash £4m a year from the city’s overall social services costs.

Seventy six OAPs would have to be rehoused if the proposals get the go-ahead. Under-occupation forms part of the key rationale for the planned overhaul of adult social care in Leeds. care-home-couple-sit,Council care homes run out of favour

Leeds City Council also currently funds 2,136 people in private-sector residential care homes, meaning it pays for a total of 2,433 bed spaces. The council insists the choice of a council-run or private bed space is down to the client. If they choose an independent home, and they are eligible for council funding, the authority will pay for them to stay in their chosen facility.

The city’s director of adult social care, Sandie Keene, said an ever-increasing choice of gleaming new privately run homes, and a range of semi-independent living options which are preferred by many older people, had meant that “there are more vacancies than there need to be” in Leeds’s council-run homes.

“We have been supporting fewer people in residential care over time,” she said. “So we have had to look across the city at how much residential care we need. In the context of the pressures of the council, it’s wise and sensible to think about making sure we have got just the right number of vacancies for the number of people who need care.”

As a result, two out of five Leeds’ council-run care homes are lying empty as more and more older people opt for modern, privately run facilities or semi-independent living. Subsequently, council care homes are running out of favour.

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.”

State-backed insurance scheme announced after elderly care shakeup

Ministers have published plans to the biggest shake-up in the system of support in six decades which promises to cap costs for one in eight poorer pensioners and cut bills for the wealthy by up to a fifth.

State-backed insurance scheme announced after elderly care shakeup

The current postcode lottery of care, which means elderly people in different parts of the country receive widely differing levels of public assistance, will be swept away in 2016 and replaced by a national level of eligibility and the opening of a government-backed “care account” for individuals to pay for care, the government says.

Statistics predicts that the increasing ageing population will mean the number of people aged over 85 will double by 2030. Thus a new fairer system is urgently needed in place to replace the current postcode lottery of care schemes currently running.

State-backed insurance scheme announced after elderly care shakeup

At present these self-funders spend between £40 and £140 a week more than the £500 a week that local authorities pay on average for residential care and “hotel costs” – essentially food and accommodation. Under the new scheme all those eligible for care will be able to demand care at the £500 rate, in effect cutting care bills for well off people by about a fifth.

These reforms bring reassurance to millions of people by ending the existing unfair system so no one need face unlimited care costs or the prospect of selling their home in their lifetime. Now we are unveiling proposals for how the new system will operate and what it can do to help people plan and prepare for future care costs – and over the next three months we’ll be seeking people’s views on making it a reality.