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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


Care home sector facing ‘mass exodus’ due to mandatory jab legislation, union warns

The care home sector is facing a ‘mass exodus’ of around 70,000 workers due to mandatory COVID legislation, the GMB has warned.

The union said the decision to force staff vaccination would exacerbate recruitment shortages caused by poor pay.

It added that offering bonuses, citing an HC-One £10k signing on fee for registered night nurses, would do little to stem the flow.

Kelly Andrews, GMB Social Care lead, said: “Throwing bonuses at people to fix long-term problems within social care, however welcome those one-off payments are for individual workers, is like throwing a deckchair from the top deck of the titanic.

“The only way providers and government are going to solve the recruitment crisis in care is by paying the workforce a decent salary of £15 an hour.

“As we head towards the end of the year we are likely to see lots more leave the profession – the UK government estimates it could be up to a further 70,000.

“To stop this mass exodus we need the workforce to be priority in any investment in the sector and that means in the workforces pay packets.

“Those that hold the purse strings need to recognise the sacrifices care workers have made and the professional work that has been carried out daily during the pandemic and before under unrelenting pressures. Its time these workers were properly valued. It’s long overdue they paid up.”

An HC-One spokesperson told CHP its welcome bonus payment was only offered in specific circumstances and for specific roles with amounts varying.

The spokesperson said the bonus was not a new payment and was payable over two years in order to be retentive.

“With widely reported recruitment challenges across the sector, we are committed to doing everything in our power to make sure we recruit the right people, with the right values and qualifications, to provide the high-quality care our residents deserve and expect,” the spokesperson said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The social care sector has been an essential and valued part of the front line response to the pandemic. We have sought to protect the workforce and those receiving social care, providing over £2 billion for the sector including infection prevention and control measures, free PPE and regular testing, and we prioritised staff for the vaccine.

“The government is working alongside employers to ensure the care workforce has the right number of people to meet increasing demands, including running national recruitment campaigns every year.

“The government is committed to reforming the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals in 2021.”

05 Aug 2021

Surrey care home in-house trainer wins award for her 'dedication' throughout pandemic

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society in-house trainer has won a Workforce Development Award for the South East in acknowledgement of her efforts to maintain high levels of staff training throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sharon Hicks and the Royal Alfred are through to the National Finals which take place on 25 September at The ICC, Birmingham. Credit: Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society.

Sharon Hicks was recognised at the postponed 2020 Great British Care Awards which took place on 23 July.

The Workforce Development Award recognises the importance of training and support within the care sector and champions those who have helped meet the development needs of care staff. Joining the company in 2019, Ms Hicks has been instrumental with in-house training at Belvedere House over the last three years and particularly during the pandemic.

Ms Hicks said: “Winning the Workforce Development Award means so much to me and is testament to the society itself, which invests so much time and effort in fostering a culture of learning and development. Investing in our workforce and in staff training means we are able to keep talented and caring individuals at Belvedere House long-term, resulting in a comforting environment and continuity of care for residents.”

Ms Hicks delivers on average eight different courses per month for staff across the home and also helped establish the Society’s specialist Maritime Acquaint Training programme which provides an insight to the lives of seafaring residents so that their care can be tailored to their individual requirements.

“I genuinely couldn’t think of a better place to work, and I’m pleased to be able to support such a talented team with their training and development needs, as well as play my part in nurturing a strong workforce that will shape the future of the home,” adds Ms Hicks.

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society caters for retired seafarers, their families, and dependents as well as those living with dementia at its care home Belvedere House. The charity brought Ms Hicks on board when the senior team identified learning and development as a key area to not only support its colleagues who required regular training but to bring more consistency for residents.

As well as managing all training for colleagues, Ms Hicks also coordinates the Society’s information boards for its equality, diversity, and inclusion programme.

Brian Boxall-Hunt, chief executive at the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, said: “We are incredibly proud of what Sharon has achieved in her relatively short time with the society. She has gone far beyond the call of duty over the last 18 months and thoroughly deserves this award for her dedication to our home and to the development of our fantastic team."

Ms Hicks provides bespoke training for colleagues at the society, delivering more than 1,000 hours of training annually. During the pandemic, she adapted courses to ensure they could still be delivered; with more e-learning programmes, smaller session sizes, and more one-to-one training.

Mr Boxall-Hunt added: “When we had to reduce class sizes to three attendees during the pandemic, Sharon delivered so many courses to ensure our training levels remained high which, when you consider that we have 86 colleagues who each have to complete numerous mandatory classes, is a mammoth task.”

As a regional winner of the 2020 Great British Care Awards in the South East, Ms Hicks and the Royal Alfred are through to the National Finals which take place on 25 September at The ICC, Birmingham.

05 Aug 2021

Life’s a beach at West Sussex care home’s new wellness room

Care home groupsOperatorsProjectsUpgrades by Lee Peart on August 3, 2021

Residents and staff have enjoyed a beach-themed afternoon to mark the grand opening of a new wellness room at a Crawley care home.

‘Burleys Beach Retreat’ at Shaw healthcare’s Burleys Wood care home was funded by the ‘Friends of Burleys Wood’, which was founded by Brian and Tina Baker, whose mother Jean Lehec was a long term resident of the home until she sadly passed away earlier this year. Further funding was provided by the Belron Ronnie Lubner Charitable Foundation.

The new retreat will serve as a wellness room where residents will be able to relax and be pampered. Connected to the retreat is a new ocean-themed garden, complete with beach huts and a sailing dinghy planted with flowers.

Together they will provide a safe and welcoming space for relaxation and pampering as well as a private space for visiting doctors and nurses to speak to residents and relatives.

Commenting on the retreat’s launch, Erika Szalacsi, manager at the home, said: “It was a wonderful afternoon enjoyed by both residents and staff – we certainly had the right weather for our event.

“We can’t thank ‘The Friends of Burleys Wood’ enough for their continued support here and now restrictions are easing we are looking forward to more events and welcoming more people to our lovely home.  The team I have here are nothing short of amazing and have shown true commitment and dedication to providing first class care to our residents – I’m immensely proud.”

Burleys Wood provides residential and nursing care for up to 60 residents, including those living with dementia.

04 Aug 2021

Bield residents stay connected thanks to iPad donation

Best PracticeBusinessCare home groupsOperators by Lee Peart on August 2, 2021

Residents at a Bield extra care housing development are staying in touch with their loved ones during the pandemic, thanks to a government initiative.

The Castlebrae Glebe residents received 12 iPads from Connecting Scotland – a project established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to connect individuals who may have otherwise been isolated.

Sharon Tomany, Development Manager at Castlebrae Glebe in Craigmillar applied for the programme in February after hearing about the initiative designed for individuals who don’t have the confidence, kit or connectivity at home in a bid to reduce digital exclusion.

“The project has been an amazing opportunity to help customers become more digitally connected and keep in contact with loved ones throughout a period which could have been extremely isolating,” Sharon said.

“Everyone at the development has benefited from the donation in some way. One aspect that we didn’t appreciate would have such a big impact was that our customers now feel closer to the local community.

“Previously, they may not have seen the communication from local businesses online or been able to get involved with local groups activities.

“The iPads have enabled customers to listen to music, watch videos, read the news and shop online – simple things that they didn’t necessarily have access to before.”

Customers have been supported by staff to set the iPads up and understand how to use the device safely.

“The feedback from friends and families has been very positive and many have expressed their delight about being able to get in touch with their loved ones at any point and actually have video calls, which is much better than talking over the phone,” Sharon said.

“We know that many elderly people often battle loneliness and this has heightened throughout the pandemic, so it is especially rewarding to know that we have changed that for our customers by even just a little bit.”

03 Aug 2021

Majority of people with parents aged 75+ have family money to pay for care

Most people with parents over the age of 75 (55 per cent) have admited to having family money saved specifically to pay for their parents’ future care, a new poll reveals.

Some 67 per cent of people believe a lack of funding has had a negative effect on care in care homes and whether planned or as a result of financial challenges, the majority of the public say they have family money saved to pay for the future care of their elderly parents, according to a poll by Kepler Vision Technologies.

The poll is based on the responses of 1,000 UK adults with parents over the age of 75.

In total, 49 per cent of respondents with parents in care homes believe private care homes are improving when it comes to quality, compared with 32 per cent of respondents without a parent in a care home.

Of those who believe the quality of private care homes has improved, 48 per cent say this is because of more experienced carers and 47 per cent cite better monitoring systems.

When it comes to the most important aspect of ‘good care’ for parents in elderly care, face-to-face time was chosen by 49 per cent of people with a parent in a care home. The second most important factor was regular safety checks from care staff (50 per cent) followed by staff experience (49 per cent).

Some 43 per cent say the main advantage of their parent living in a care home is round the clock care, while a quarter said companionship and social interactions with others.

Kepler Vision Technologies uses artificial intelligence to monitor people at night using technology which alerts care staff to people who have had a fall. Dr Harro Stokman, chief executive of Kepler Vision Technologies, said: “When it comes to the concept of ‘good care’, a definitive 49% of respondents stated that face-to-face time with staff is the most important factor, with the second most important being regular safety checks from nursing care staff.”

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

Over half of people polled (52 per cent) say they are worried about their parent catching COVID, while 47 per cent are worried about their parent being lonely and 46 per cent are concerned they could fall over alone.

The poll also highlighted different perceptions of the quality of care in public and private care facilities. Some 60 per cent of people with parents in NHS-run homes believe that the quality of care has improved, compared to 49 per cent of people with parents in private care settings.

The chief executive added: “While it is good to see that people recognise the importance of staff and face-to-face interaction in elderly care, the huge gap in opinion between those with parents in care and those without shows that there are unfair negative perceptions around the residential care space.

“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.”

03 Aug 2021

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
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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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