LibLink…Norman Lamb: What can we do to improve care in the home?

We’ve seen some awful stories in the media over the last few weeks about poor standards of home care. Norman Lamb has been writing in the Guardian about what the Government can do to ensure that everyone has good quality care.

First he outlines the problems:

One of the most common complaints I come across is where care is carried out by the clock. Carers will come to the house and have a time slot of around 15 minutes to get everything done and be off to the next appointment. But 15 minutes may not be enough to do what is needed. So appointments are rushed through – trying to get everything done – in or out of bed; getting washed; trying to bolt down food or take medication. It is no wonder that these visits can be stressful and unpleasant.

Or people see a different face every time a carer walks through the door – who would want to have intimate care tasks carried out by a total stranger every time? This is an assault on people’s dignity. And if we wouldn’t want to be cared for in such a way ourselves, how can we accept it for others? I have also found that there are too many examples of employers paying people less than the minimum wage by not taking account of travel times to and from people’s homes.

So, what does good care look like?

We have to ensure that care and support is built around the person – what they need, how they can best be cared for, and what they want. We have to change the confusing and often archaic social care laws – a task that is being carried out by the care bill going through parliament now.

We have to give people better information about what good care looks like and let them comment openly and honestly about the sort of service they receive. We know there is nothing like some forthright customer feedback to bring about change. This is why we have set up the new online information profiles on the NHS Choices website, which will help people to choose, compare and comment on care homes and homecare services. A place where people can post comments about the type of care they are getting – both positive and negative. A fully open, transparent and comprehensive service like this will leave bad care nowhere to hide. This means better standards and quality of care across the board.

This, long with better integration, more money and stronger regulation and inspection should help, but it’ll take time to feed through. What can be changed now?

We also need to find new ways to improve homecare now, for the sake of the 300,000 people currently receiving homecare and for the millions more who will need it in years to come. This may be by improving the way councils buy care, or the way in which care companies deliver it, improving the role for the social care profession, better using technology to support individuals and their families and friends to organise their formal and informal care and linking services to community groups to tackle loneliness and isolation.

We are inviting ideas and experiences from everyone who is interested – from care workers, managing directors of care companies, communities, councils, to people who rely on homecare and their family and friends, to help drive this spread of great homecare across England. That is why the Department of Health is today launching a homecare hub with the Guardian. Please add your comments and ideas from July to December 2013, and help to improve homecare for older people and disabled adults in your area.


You can read the article in full here.

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  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Jul '13 - 1:06pm

    Good care will come when the people doing it are made to feel appreciated, their experience valued, and a sense of camaraderie and professional pride developed.

    Bad care will come when they are written off as part of some “bloated state expenditure” (put down as all the fault of the Labour Party), and subjected to targeting and competition where all that counts is getting the job done as cheaply as possible.

  • Ed Shepherd 4th Jul '13 - 7:05am

    A good article and some good comments above. Professional caring should be seen as an important and well-rewarded career that carries high status. Personally, I would like to live in a society where a professional carer gets the same rewards as a city banker, a PR guru or any one of a number of highly rewarded but much less useful jobs. I appreciate that such a view would lead me to be derided as a “socialist” who is not in touch with “the modern world” where “history has ended” and “the state” should be “rolled back”.

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