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UK: Older people in care homes abandoned to die amid Government failures during coronavirus pandemic - new report

Key failings included decisions to discharge thousands of untested hospital patients into care homes and imposition of blanket DNARs <br> <br>Care home managers and staff say they were left without guidance, PPE or access to testing. Read more


NHS care homes provide ‘better care’ than private sector, opinion poll finds

New research shows a growing divide between how public- and privately-owned residential care homes have improved amid the coronavirus pandemic, with NHS run facilities outpacing their private counterparts. 

In a survey of 1,000 UK adults with parents over the age of 75, 60% of people with parents in NHS care homes believe that the quality of care has improved, compared to 49% of respondents with parents in private care facilities.

The main reason for this across both types of facility was more capable care staff, with 50% of respondents seeing this as the most important factor, followed by better monitoring systems, at 49%.

However, this outlook is reversed among respondents with parents who are not in assisted living facilities, according to the research conducted by Kepler Vision Technologies.

Only 35% of people who do not have parents in care believe that NHS facilities are improving, versus 32% who believe it is only improving in the private sector.

Among those people with parents living alone or with them, only 18% showed confidence that care home staff are able to look after residents to a good standard.

Dr Harro Stokman, CEO of Kepler Vision Technologies said the gap in opinion between those with parents in care and those without shows that there are unfair negative perceptions around the residential care space.

He added: “More can and should be done by care homes to give people the confidence that their relatives will receive the very best care – by highlighting the excellent work of staff and how well they are able to monitor resident’s needs with easy-to-use technology.”

When it comes to choosing a suitable care home, 62% of respondents who don’t have a parent in a care home said the most important factor was the location, followed by reputation (59%) and cleanliness and hygiene standards (59%).

28 Jul 2021

Care home fundraised for beach wheelchairs, after resident said his last wish was to go to the beach

A care home in Clacton-on-Sea fundraised for two beach wheelchairs, after care home staff said they were “heartbroken” when they were unable to fulfil a resident’s last wish to go to the beach.

Mary Wood on her first trip in a beach wheelchair

Simon Keyes, who was 34, was at Edensor Care Centre for end-of-life care and in his final days said he wanted to go to the beach.

Sadly the team did not have specially adapted wheelchairs for the beach and so were unable to fulfil his last wish.

Lindsey Milliken, deputy manager at Edensor Care Centre, said: “Edensor is very close to the beach, so it's an ideal place for those who love the seaside to visit, however many of our residents are unable to wholly enjoy their surroundings as some are permanent wheelchair users and this makes it impossible for them to go on the sand and down to the water’s edge without specially adapted chairs.

“I was with Simon on his last visit outside the home and not being able to take him on the sand was a feeling I never wanted to experience again.”

With the support of Colchester Catalyst, Pickering Electronics LTD and those who donated through Just Giving, Edensor has been able to buy two beach wheelchairs.

The first resident to use a new beach wheelchair was Mary Wood. She said, “I have had the most amazing time and it brought back such happy childhood memories of visits to the beach.”

As part of their commitment to the community, the charity Diagrama which runs the Edensor Care Centre in Clacton on Sea, hopes to allow the local community to book one of the wheelchairs so that even more people will be able to go on the beach.

To enquire about borrowing a beach wheelchair call the Edensor team on 01255 423317.

Diagrama is a charity which supports vulnerable people through residential care, adoption and fostering across the southeast of England. The foundation has three small care homes for adults with learning disabilities, a 48-bed care home for elderly with nursing and dementia needs, three homes for vulnerable young people and a Supported Living Service.

28 Jul 2021

Government not delivering on workforce parity of esteem, says Care England

The government is failing to deliver on its commitment of deliver parity of esteem to health and social care workers, Care England says.

The largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care voiced its disappointment after the government offered to increase NHS nurse pay by 3% while only offering 2% for adult social care through the rise in Funded Nursing Care.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said: “Despite all the talk of parity and adult social care reform, this action by the Government merely confirms our fear that it still does not value both the NHS and adult social care in an equal manner. Such actions will not serve to assist the adult social care in meeting the 36% increase in its size necessary if the demand for the social care workforce grows proportionally to the projected number of people aged 65 and over.

26 Jul 2021

Covid vaccine for care home staff in England will be mandatory from 11 November

The Covid vaccine will be mandatory for all care home workers in England from 11 November, with the government admitting that up to seven per cent of the workforce, equating to 40,000 staff, could lose their jobs.

In its impact statement, the government has set out the effect it believes mandatory vaccination will have on care homes. It predicts seven per of care home workers, which is around 40,000 staff out of 570,000 working in care homes in England will refuse to have the vaccine.

The government estimates that by the time the vaccine becomes compulsory, around 87 per cent of the workforce would have had both doses.

It announced a 16 week grace period from 22 July for all care home workers to be vaccinated, with 16 September being the last date for care workers to get their first vaccine so they are fully vaccinated before regulations come into force.

Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum (NCF) – the leading association for not-for-profit care providers said: “With the regulations now approved, the countdown to implementation begins. The regulations will come into force on the 11 November, and the delayed impact statement produced by the government earlier this week outlined the potential impact on the care sector across all care homes.

'Associated cost of £100m to recruit and train replacement staff'

“By their own assumption the government have determined that it is likely that seven per cent of the workforce will not be deployable as a result of this policy. The assessment claims that this is likely to mean that 40,000 staff are unlikely to be able to work in care homes within the next 16 weeks. In addition, the statement identifies an associated cost of £100 million to recruit and train replacement staff. However, this assumption does not bear any reference to the costs of implementation of the policy itself.”

She added: “With less than 16 weeks to go, the sector urgently needs guidance and sufficient resources provided in a timely manner for the sector to prepare for the implementation of this policy.

“On any given day social care has approximately 112K vacancies. The change to regulation could in 16 weeks’ time, without preparation or support, add a further 40K to that figure, something that we simply cannot allow to happen. The care workforce needs to be treated with the same level of respect and appreciation as NHS workers.”

In its statement, the government says there are ‘plausible reasons’ as to why it will be possible to find this ‘potentially large number of replacement workers’ who may be needed as a result of the vaccination policy.

The government cites the approaching end of the furlough scheme’ as well as ‘the limited level of requirements necessary for those entering the sector’.

Vaccination policy gives more protection and may 'incentive some to take up care jobs'

It hopes the vaccination policy ‘may also incentivise some people to enter this labour market, given their increased level of protection against the spread of the virus at the workplace relative to other labour markets’.

‘There could additionally be workers who may not respond in time to the requirements initially and so will temporarily need to exit the workforce, but once having received both doses would be able to re-enter into the workforce.’

Barchester which has over 200 care homes has already made the Covid vaccine compulsory for all its employees with some exemptions including pregnancy.

HC-One which runs 326 care homes is currently carrying out a consultation with its staff on making the vaccine mandatory.

26 Jul 2021

BREAKING NEWS: CQC publishes data on COVID-19 care home deaths

The CQC has today published statistics showing death notifications involving COVID-19 in individual care homes.

In publishing its data, the CQC highlighted that notifications may include the deaths of residents who may have contracted and died from COVID-19 in settings outside their care home and were in themselves not a good predictor of poor quality care.

In stressing the significance of community transmission in care home deaths, the data includes a PHE breakdown of deaths by region.

Other contributing factors cited were care home size, including the characteristics of people living in the care home, and whether they are from a black and minority ethnic group, which have suffered disproportionately from the pandemic.

The data from 5,577 inspections of residential adult social care providers between 10 April 2020 and 31 March 2021 revealed 39,017 deaths of residents involving COVID-19.

Kate Terroni, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said: “We have a duty to be transparent and to act in the public interest, and we made a commitment to publish data at this level, but only once we felt able to do so as accurately and safely as possible given the complexity and sensitivity of the data. In doing so, we aim to provide a more comprehensive picture of the impact of COVID-19 on care homes, the people living in them and their families. It is important to be clear, however, that although this data relates to deaths of people who were care home residents, many of them did not die in or contract COVID-19 in a care home.

“As we publish this data, we ask for consideration and respect to be shown to people living in care homes, to families who have been affected, and to the staff who have done everything they could, in incredibly difficult circumstances, to look after those in their care.”

Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman at National Care Association said: “We extend our deepest sympathies to those who lost loved ones throughout the pandemic and our thanks to the incredible workforce who kept vulnerable people safe across all parts of the sector. Focusing on part of the sector feels difficult for those who have lived through it on the frontline, but we know that this historic data is based on a time when the care sector was left unsupported. What we need is to ensure that we come together to develop a plan that ensure supporting vulnerable people in our services are at the top of the agenda not an afterthought.”

Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum (NCF), commented: “The CQC publication today is a reminder of the terrible toll that has been felt by those who live in care homes, their loved ones and the workforce. Behind each number is the life of an individual whose life has been lost in the pandemic. Lives cut short before their time, lived by people who were loved and are greatly missed by family and friends. Many families will feel that loss again seeing this publication, as will the care home staff and providers who have cared for and supported them for many months and years.”

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director said: “It would be easy to assume that if a care home has experienced a large volume of COVID-19 deaths that must mean it’s not very good, but this would be unfair. The care homes that have been impacted the worst are generally in areas where there have been lots of COVID-19 cases in the local community, so this is more a tragic accident of geography than anything else.”

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Every COVID-19 death is the sad loss of a much-loved husband or wife, parent or grand-parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or friend. As care providers today, we mourn each and every one of them.”

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, added: “Care homes have been right at the front line of this dreadful pandemic. My thoughts go out to all those bereaved relatives as well as those dedicated staff who have been on high alert often working around the clock with no end in sight as well as all bereaved relatives.  Every death is a tragedy and it would be highly disrespectful if lessons were not learned at every level.  Similarly, every death needs to be seen in context.”

22 Jul 2021

Hopes dashed as social care reform delayed again

Leaders have voiced their frustration at news that social care reform has been put back to the autumn.

An announcement by the PM had been expected this week but the plans have been delayed amidst criticism of the government’s plans to introduce new tax rises to fund reforms.

The Guardian reported that the government had failed to be able to agree a funding mechanism for the plans after concerns arose over a potential 1p increase in insurance contributions being branded a ‘social care levy’.

Talks were reported to have been further complicated by the forced isolation of the three main government players – the PM, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health & Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid.

Care leaders voiced their anger after news of the further delay.

Nick Sanderson, CEO of Audley Group, commented: “The social care sector is subject to yet more delays from the Government. It simply isn’t good enough. We hear excuse after excuse and meanwhile a large percentage of our population are being failed. Let down year on year with minimal support from an underfunded system. The lack of trust from the population is evident – our own research found that just 5% of over 55s have full trust in state care services and believe they would be cared for appropriately if necessary.

“We need to see systematic change from the ground up by reducing the need for care within the UK. This involves a more holistic view of social care for older people. We need the narrative to shift around social care services and make them a last resort, and instead, improve the planning system to facilitate the building of more suitable housing, with care and wellbeing services attached. This is simply the only solution that will take the unsustainable pressure off hospitals and residential care.”

Union and opposition leaders also voiced their anger with UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea saying the government had “raised hopes around reform only to dash them yet again”.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Social Care, said: “Every day the Government delays their plans for fixing the crisis in social care is another day that staff don’t get the pay and training they deserve, another day that thousands of people go without the basic help they need, to do things like get up, washed, dressed and fed, and another day that families are pushed to breaking point.

“Ministers must now put in place a ten-year plan for investment and reform that puts social care on a sustainable footing, and provides all older and disabled people with the dignity and security they deserve.”

22 Jul 2021
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News updates 

MPs ignore public consultation and vote for compulsory vaccinations for care home staff

MPs have approved regulations for all care home staff in England to be vaccinated against Covid, despite the government holding a public consultation which found 57 per cent did not support mandatory vaccination.

The government carried out a public consultation earlier this year. Eleven per cent of responses were from care providers, with 28 per cent from care home staff, 23 per cent from the general public and 23 per cent from care service users and their friends and family.

Forty-one per cent were supportive of compulsory vaccination and 57 per cent did not support the proposal. Two per cent were neither supportive or unsupportive. Read more

Government to lift cap on visitors for care home residents in England after 19 July

‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July will bring an end to restrictions on visitors for care home residents in England, according to health and social care minister Sajid Javid.

In a speech to the House of Commons yesterday, he announced the details of Step 4 on 19 July, revealing the revoking of social distancing guidance everywhere apart from medical settings and ports of entry, as well as ditching the legal requirement to wear face masks.

In addition, he said: “We will lift the cap on named care home visitor numbers, so that families can come together in the ways they want to once again.”Read more

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