CQC has issued a report this morning saying that one in three nursing homes in England ‘fails safety.’ They put it down to drug errors, lack of staff and falls. But reading between the lines shows the crux of the issue is that most homes do not have enough carers, and those that are in place are often stretched to the limit. ( We hear the same story about nurses in NHS hospitals).  Read the report here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40499567

It’s incredibly difficult to recruit in the care sector, although the job is hugely rewarding.  I think the reasons are three fold:  on, the continuing bad press about care homes puts people off, two, funding for social care is almost on the point of collapse, according to observers, so now we see Local Authorities paying providers less than the real cost of care, and three, the general lack of concern about the wellbeing of older people that exists in our society.

Nursing homes are vital if the NHS is not to collapse.  (And there are gloomy prognoses here, too.)  If the 400,000 currently said to be in care homes had to be moved into hospitals, the whole system would grind to a halt.  Yet caring for others in this way is more rewarding than most people realise.  It truly is more blessed to give than to receive: it actually improves the mental and physical health of the giver.   In a recent article, psychiatrist Max Pemberton said that he learnt more about the really important issues of life and death when he worked as a student to earn money for university as a home carer for a frail woman with MS.

One of our care homes, the Bethany Home in Plymouth, was told by inspectors of Plymouth Council’s Quality Mark Assurance team  that its Dementia Improvement Plan Review, ‘passed with flying colours’ and said they would like to use the home’s  Portfolio as an example for others in the region.  Manager Emma Hughes said that the home registered for dementia care in 2015, ’partly because some people living here developed dementia and we wanted to continue to care for them.’  She also did not want to turn away new applicants who had dementia.  ‘We did not want to refuse them the opportunity to be here,’ she added. Emmie says that much of the credit for the success of the portfolio and the dementia care is due to Care Team leader, Jackie Lamey, who has a huge heart for people with dementia and an instinctive understanding of their needs.  ‘She is a real motivator and inspiration for the whole team,’ said Emma.  (More about the home’s dementia portfolio follows in a separate post.)

I was asked about the situation by Transworld Radio, by James Maidment, on the 12.00 o’clock news today.  He asked whether churches could do more.  Many churches are doing their best, I replied, and there again, we are all so strapped for time.  Pilgrims’ Friend Society is blessed by supporters from local churches who commit to praying for our homes, and our staff.  They come and befriend residents.  Perhaps more churches could take a pattern from us, because I believe the will to do it is there.




Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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