By Debbie le Quesne

Archive for May 2012

Pioneers or settlers?

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The My Home Life movement which promotes quality of care in homes for older people is heading up national debate and we want you to get involved.

It’s a great opportunity to have a say and share on a platform which will get the ear of Government ministers. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has called for a ‘revolution’. This is one way you could become a revolutionary and a pioneer rather than a settler.

The approach is sensitive and sensible.

This initiative is posing the following questions:

  What makes life good in care homes now?

  What could make them better?

  How might we get there?

“If you are living, working or managing a care home we need your input,” the promotional story says.

What’s more, My Home Life will send you a great pack of stuff to help you engage with your local community.

For the Association, it’s a great initiative – but it will only work if you take part.

As we posted yesterday, the Panorama horror stories stalk our industry and so often the work of thousands of good carers is lost in the blaze of negativity. 

 Why shouldn’t we learn from some great care role models? An d why shouldn’t we help change the culture that tends to tar everyone with the same brush?

Giving care is an emotional journey. It should develop relationships which are cherished and healthy and cannot always be quantified within the industry ‘paperwork’.

Paul Burstow, Minister for Care Services has admitted to being a “big fan” of My Home Life, so he’s listening.

Please don’t let this opportunity pass by without at least finding out more. We won’t change the future by being inactive with the present.


Written by debbielq

May 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm

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Panorama: Time …

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Panorama: Time for ‘revolution’

The Panorama programme that exposed a carer in an assault on a defenceless and frail person has sparked ongoing sentiments of both anger and frustration.

Anger, that humanity should ever stoop to such despicable acts and frustration over the uneasy way ahead to ensure this cannot happen again.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has been mobilised into a call for a “revolution” from care workers in an attempt to re-evaluate their worth and address the documentation culture.

The foundation seeks a way to make care homes “more open, cherished, supported and valued.”

It adds “ . . . if we want fewer Panoramas, that’s what we need to do. It’s a human business.”

The following is an extract from JRF blog and it poses some searching questions for us all: “Are our expectations of care workers fair? Do we as a society allow the right, safe environment and culture to exist that enables empathetic care to be provided?

“If care is  your work it is undervalued and poorly paid.  You are repeatedly told that everything must be written down (“If it’s not written down it didn’t happen” – goes the mantra). You spend hours in ‘training’ being tutored in the mysteries of risk analysis, risk assessment, safeguarding, outcome measures, evidence-based practice.

“The people for whom you are ‘caring’ for need to be assessed, care-planned, risk-assessed, safe-guarded. If something goes wrong you are immediately exposed and held to account. Mistakes are often framed as ‘neglect’ or even ‘abuse’ when in fact they are mainly mistakes.

“You may be a very caring, kind person working in a good kind care home but you only every see yourself represented negatively.

“Ash Court was ‘compliant’ it had all the risk assessments, policies, protocols, training, induction, supervision, etc in place, and none of that prevented the actions of individual members of staff behind closed doors? Why? Because paper can’t do that.

“Is this really the way to let flourish a relationship that fosters empathy, sympathy, compassion and respect. Or is it a system that depersonalises and victimises?

“As someone who works in this sector you can often feel inhibited from joining in the debate following an abuse scandal, always aware of your own potential frailty. But if care providers don’t get engaged, the system is unlikely to change.”

Read the full blog at http://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/2012/04/care-revolution. It’s worth the time.

Written by debbielq

May 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Have we heard this before?

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The coalition government has scored badly in the latest research from older people’s housing and care charity, Anchor.

We’re not surprised that the findings include:

• Only 14 per cent of older people believe the government will find a solution to the social care crisis

• Only six per cent of those aged over 55 believe the quality of social care has improved under the Coalition

• And 66 per cent of older people believe MPs ignore older people’s issues

The News comes as the coalition prepares to outline its plans for reforming social care. We’ve heard this before I think.

The findings also highlight that more than two thirds of those aged over 55 (67 per cent) believe the coalition has ignored social care. A lowly 14 per cent are confident that the government will find a solution to failures within the system.

During the election there were some brave promises made to prioritise social care, but just 23 per cent were confident that good quality care will be made available to them when they need it.

To sum up the whole report, Anchor reveals that eight in ten of the older people surveyed, (79 per cent) want  measures that will improve the quality of care available to older people to be published in this summer’s social care White Paper.

Some 137,000 people have supported Anchor’s petition calling for a dedicated Minister for Older People who could have a cohesive role in joining up policies on the UK’s elderly population.

Written by debbielq

May 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm

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On line support for dementia – FREE

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There’s a free online toolkit to help care homes improve the quality of dementia care.

Care Fit for VIPS is carefully researched, practical and attractive. To access the free tool go to: www.carefitforvips.co.uk

Written by debbielq

May 23, 2012 at 8:19 am

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Domiciliary care funding dilemma

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I stumbled on a piece from the Guardian online outlining that fewer older people are getting their care at home paid for wholly by local authorities.

The article makes worrying reading for an ageing population that is now caught in an economic tailspin.

The Guardian carried out a survey with Freedom of Information requests sent to 120 councils and found huge disparities in costs between local authorities.

Our carers help thousands of vulnerable older and disabled people get up in the morning, and get washed, dressed and fed. But my worry is that as costs spiral much needed help will become inaccessible to many of the population.

The survey revealed that in excess of 7,000 had their care services fully paid for by a local authority in 2011 – a reduction of 11 per cent compared to 2009. I wonder what the today’s figures would be?

I wonder too if the Government will ever robustly address the under funded social care system in which we work? Much of this care has been put out to the private sector and we know only too well fees are being squeezed far too much.

The survey concluded the average charge for an hour of home care has risen by 10 per cent in the past two years – from £12.29 to £13.61.

Recently the Government announced a further 28 per cent in funding cuts over the next four years. So how are we to carry on? I find the unfolding of these budget restrains deeply worrying.

The article quotes David Rogers, the Local Government Association Community Wellbeing chairman, as saying “the cost of adult social care already takes up more than 40 per cent of council budgets and we are very close to a point where failure to address the crisis in social care funding could set the long-term solution back years.”

Written by debbielq

May 21, 2012 at 7:51 am

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Lasting Power of Attorney, Probate and Funeral Arrangements

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 This must be worth considering. Legal Estate Planning Ltd can provide regulated services at a fraction of the cost of a solicitor. For example: Probate Applications, £450 with paperwork completed in your own home, car to court, support while there and return home; LPA, £200 per document completed in own home. Call free 0800 500 3106.

Written by debbielq

May 18, 2012 at 8:05 am

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260k NHS care home fees refund

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Three families wrongly charged for their relatives’ care have won back over a quarter of a million pounds they were forced to pay.

The families had to sell homes to meet the huge costs for long-term dementia care that should have been funded by the NHS.

Now the families, who secured backdating of their claims, are urging others challenging NHS funding decisions to appeal to the Health Service Ombudsman.

But action for new claims needs to be taken before a September 2012 deadline, announced by the Department of Health.

Many people are unaware that the NHS is fully responsible for and fully funds ‘continuing healthcare’.

This generally affects seriously ill patients, often elderly, in nursing homes. It can also apply if a person is in hospital long-term or needs nursing care in their home.

Daughne Taylor, one of the successful claimants, said if she hadn’t seen an article about a person who managed to claim back her mother’s care fees she would not have had any knowledge of NHS continuing.

Families have been given a last chance to claim after the announcement from the Department of Health means a close down of claims for wrongly paid care home fees for the period 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2011 in England.

A crucial 1999 ruling established that the NHS was responsible for funding care in a home where the primary reason for that care was a health need.

The Association wants people to be aware of their rights and equally importantly, to know that this really is their last chance to ask the Primary Care Trust for a review of care home fees paid from 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2012.

Written by debbielq

May 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm

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Savings – but what a cost to quality?

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People who look after elderly loved-ones at home should get state funding, a group of Conservative MPs has said. That all seems fine, but read on . . .

According to the Free Enterprise Group, the Government could save an estimated £1.14 billion a year by funding families directly. Chris Skidmore, the MP for Kingswood, who wrote the report, said, as reported in the Telegraph newspaper: “Where a local authority might otherwise be paying several hundred pounds a week for residential care, they could instead be offering a fraction of that to a relative to provide care themselves.”

 Mr Skidmore said evidence from Germany and Holland showed that putting cash directly in the hands of families to provide “informal” care was more efficient than diverting funds through councils.

Informal care? Who on earth would, or could, monitor the standards of such a system – CQC? And would the caring friends and families get the kind of training we provide for members’ carers? It’s all very worrying.

There’s a point when the level of care required is greater than what can be compassionately and professionally delivered at home. A White Paper is due out in the coming months. We just can’t wait to see it.

Written by debbielq

May 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm

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Suspending staff for misconduct

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Some things are just not clear-cut, hard for us to understand, but at the same time it’s essential that we try our best to get our heads around them. This is one of those things. We’ve been talking to legal firm Harrison Clark about a recent case regarding the suspension of two nurses and here’s the issue:

Alleged misconduct – can employers still suspend?

Employers face an additional headache when dealing with alleged misconduct amongst their employees following the case of Crawford and another v Suffolk Mental Health Partnership [2012] EWCA Civ 138. 

The Court of Appeal made it clear that a “kneejerk” suspension of employees could be a breach of the duty of trust and confidence, even when the alleged misconduct concerns abuse of service users. 

The case concerned two nurses who worked with patients suffering from depression.  They were suspended following an incident in which they allegedly restrained a patient by tying him to a chair with sheets.

Their conduct was also referred to the police.

The Appeal Court made it clear that employers faced with potential serious misconduct issues must still give proper consideration to such factors as the length of the employees’ service, their employment history and disciplinary record and balance this against any risk to service users before suspending. 

Failure to do so will leave the employer open to a finding that they breached the duty of trust and confidence.  

However, the facts in Crawford file were quite specific and employers who do give proper consideration to all the relevant factors before reaching a decision to suspend (and ensure that they keep accurate records) are still likely to be found to have acted reasonably.

The Trust was criticised for referring the matter to the police at the outset.  In future, employers will need to balance the need for transparency against the duty owed to employees and give careful consideration as to what, if any, potential crime has been committed before referring the matter to police. 

In order to be able to demonstrate a genuine and reasonable belief that the conduct, if proved, would be considered criminal, employers will need to consider not only the actions or behaviour concerned, but also the intention of the employee and ensure that they do not over-exaggerate or misinterpret the behaviour in trying to demonstrate their concern for other service users.

It’s difficult we know, so if you have any legal queries why not talk to Harrison Clark. Call our free help line: 01905 746456.


Written by debbielq

May 15, 2012 at 9:09 am

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Fees – another Judicial Review success

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 Five Devon care providers have become the latest to succeeded in getting a judicial review over care fees.

 The claimants were South West Care Homes Limited, South West Residential Homes Limited (a subsidiary of South West Care Homes Limited), Southern Healthcare (Wessex) Limited, Margaret E Wilson and others t/a Forde Park Care, and Graham and Lorraine Greenaway t/a Palm Court Nursing Home.

Then action was brought against Devon County Council (DCC)

 On 8 May 2012, His Honour Mr Justice Singh handed down his judgment in the High Court (Administrative Division) and granted relief in the form of a declaration that DCC had acted unlawfully by failing to consult properly with providers when making its decision setting care home fees for 2011/12.

Writing in their Socail Care Bulletin, QualitySolicitors Boroughs Day, said “the care professionals attempted for several years to persuade DCC to engage with them in a consultation about fees.

“Despite their efforts, DCC engaged with them in only the most cursory manner and refused to grant any increase for two years in a row.”

 The judicial review action was brought as a last resort.

 The court success is wonderful, vindicates the care providers and strengthens our arm for possible future actions, but in real terms the timescale of seeing monies in the pot is depressing. Legal procedures take forever and turning triumphs into hard cash is also slow. We’ll keep a keen eye out for the final outcome and let you know.

Written by debbielq

May 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm

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