Autumn Speakers Series: Is it just me… or have we listened and changed?

Sharon Blackburn has worked in the independent care sector for over 28 years, having previously spent 10 years in the NHS in a variety of roles. Sharon is currently Policy and Communications Director for the National Care Forum. She was awarded an CBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours for services to nursing and the not-for-profit care sector. She tweets at @NCFSharon She will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Autumn Meeting in London.

Care Homes routinely feature in the press and not always for the right reasons. Sadly the negative experiences and stories do little to help us all promote the amazing work that is being done with people who live in care homes up and down the country. Instead it feeds peoples’ already distorted views and understanding, including those of professionals. Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector for adult social care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) talks about the ‘mum’ test – “would this service be good enough for my mum?” I would suggest the ‘mum’ test needs to be more up close and personal… “would this service be acceptable to me”?

When we think about what people need in a care home from each us who provide health, housing and care services, we can over complicate things. We can get caught up in our professional silos and our respective organisations, and risk justifying our behaviours, instead of really looking at what we do from the perspective of the person using the service.

My Home Life talks about the intrinsic value of relationships in care homes, between residents, their families and staff. I would suggest that the staff element needs to extend beyond the walls of the care home to enable people who live in the care home to have a real voice along with choice and control. If were to stand in their shoes and were to observe and experience services being delivered in the way they are, would it be acceptable to us?

In 2011 BGS published An Inquiry into the Quality of Healthcare Support for Older People in Care Homes: A Call for Leadership, Partnership and Improvement.

 It identified that the following was needed:

  1. A health service suitable for the specific needs of this population. This means a structured and pro-active approach to care, with coordinated teams working together built on primary care and supported by a range of specialists (for instance geriatric medicine, mental health and rehabilitation medicine).
  2. The residents and their relatives must be at the centre of decisions about care. Their voices and those of their advocates must be heard, and their choices and priorities known and respected.
  3. A multi-disciplinary approach. This should include nationally consistent access to specialist community nursing and the full range of allied health professionals which would be available to older people living at home.
  4. A partnership approach with care homes and social care professionals. This means shared information, assessments, policies, training and learning to support quality improvement and clinical governance, to tackle key challenges that affect the quality of life of residents.

We have traveled a long road and much has changed …or has it…and how? What do people who use services tell us? And are we listening? I look forward to exploring this at my session at the BGS Autumn Meeting when I will be speaking about “What people living in care homes need from healthcare providers”

Register for the BGS Autumn Meeting 22 – 24 2017 in Excel in London

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