Which? findings add to calls for reform in elderly care Trevor Brocklebank, CEO, Home Instead Senior Care




Posted 21/09/12

Sadly I was not surprised to read that the consumer group Which? has found that care provided to elderly people in their homes is ‘disgraceful’.

We, along with many others, have long been lobbying government to urgently review social care provision. The recent White Paper paves the way for reform but needs a detailed funding model in order to allow real progress to be made. The current timetable will see Dilnot’s recommendations being implemented in 2017 which is too far away for current recipients of care. This leaves many older people in a vulnerable position and puts them at risk.

Without reform the scenarios we have read about in the Which? report will continue and will only get worse.

For anyone who hasn’t read the Which? research, the consumer group asked forty family carers to keep diaries chronicling their experience of home care by paid carers. They also conducted a survey amongst 284 Which? members.

The findings reveal people suffering poor home care, with instances of people being left in bed for up to 15 hours,  medication being missed and elderly people being left alone with food and a drink but being unable to find it owing to poor eyesight or get to it due to mobility problems.

I set up Home Instead in the UK to change the face of ageing, and I am happy to say that we are enriching the lives of many elderly people by treating them with dignity and building care around their individual needs.

This isn’t the case for the many people who receive care from traditional task based domiciliary care agencies who, more often than not, are fulfilling local authority block contracts which forces them to provide ‘care’ in short duration visits of 15 and 30 minutes. As a quality provider we know this isn’t possible and this has been shown by Which?.

At Home Instead our model for providing care is totally focused on the individual and providing the highest quality of care to our clients: and we know it works. We believe that the type of care we deliver cannot be typically provided in less than a 1 hour visit, but that doesn’t mean that there is not a time and place for short-duration care visits. The danger comes when the assumption is made that 15 – 30 minute calls are the norm.  We undertake a care consultation which ensures that the care is tailored to the client’s needs, rather than being a simple task focused check list. Continuity of care, whereby clients are visited by the same carer on each visit, ensures that relationships are built. What’s more, our carers do not wear uniforms as client feedback has shown that they create a barrier and also a stigma, particularly when a carer takes a client out in to the community.

The finger of blame for the Which? findings must not be pointed at the carers themselves who will be doing the best they can within the constraints of the current system. It’s the system that’s at fault.

One message I would like to get out to families who are bearing the brunt of failings in the system is that in many instances their loved ones will have access to individual budgets and direct payments. These allow them to decide how their care is provided, and by whom, so they need not be stuck with care that they are not happy with.

Well done to the team at Which? for carrying out this investigation as it adds yet another voice of dissent to the campaign for reform.