Care Home Review Indicates Worsening Quality of Care

Friday, 16th March 2012

Published 16 March 2012.

A new report by the Royal College of Nursing (“RCN”) highlights how care homes in the UK are struggling to meet the care needs of residents. The report follows a survey of 584 care and nursing home nurses which found that staff are facing ever increasing challenges in providing care.

Most notably, the RCN found that elderly people are being admitted to care homes with more severe and complex needs, many of whom would have previously been treated in acute hospitals. This has resulted from both a lack ofsocial care funding and tightening eligibility criteria for care needs, with local authorities often only able to fund care needs when they become critical. Of those surveyed, 48% of nurses agreed that residents with needs that ‘a care home may be inadequately equipped to meet’ were being accepted, up from 34% in 2010.

Other key issues raised include:

  • Inadequate staffing levels: 38% of respondents disagreed that there were enough registered nurses employed in care homes to meet residents’ needs
  • Inappropriate skill mix: A lack of clinic oversight was highlighted which is worrying given the ongoing ‘medicalisation’ of care homes
  • Poor staff retention: Low rates of pay, poor moral and a lack of training is resulting in high staff turnover rates and increased usage of agency staff
  • A lack of equipment: Concerns were raised regarding the availability of equipment in care homes (such as hoists and shower chairs) with 26% of respondents indicating that they did not have access to adequate equipment and medical supplies

RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, commented: “This report paints a hugely concerning picture about the many daily challenges that so many nurses in care homes face in delivering high quality care. Many of these challenges are not new, but following years of underinvestment these issues have now significantly worsened.”

In response to the report, the RCN has provided a list of 9 recommendations to be addressed as ‘a matter of urgency’ covering aspects such as social care funding, staffing ratios, regulation and integration of health and social care.

The RCN survey follows various recent reports regarding the care of elderly people in the UK, and precedes a much awaited government white paper on social care expected this spring.

Carefound is a provider of specialist home care services to elderly people in North Yorkshire, enabling clients to continue to live independently in the comfort of their own home whilst maintaining the highest quality of life achievable. Services provided include basic help in the home, companionship, personal care, medication help, post-operative rehabilitation, respite care and specialist help such as dementia care and palliative care. The flexible service ranges from 1 hour to 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, including bank holidays, and can also encompass 24-hour live-in care services. Carefound is based in Harrogate and helps clients in surrounding towns and villages including (but not limited to) Wetherby, Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, Ripon, Thirsk, Pannal, Bedale, Pateley Bridge, Nidderdale and Masham. For more information please telephone 01423 774070 or visitwww.carefound.co.uk.

Source: Royal College of Nursing, Carefound.