By Debbie le Quesne

Inspiring report: Ideals to make a care home great

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Care homes must not allow themselves to fall victim of “negative stereotypes” says a report that came onto my desk a few days ago.

Despite homes playing an ever-increasing role in supporting older people in the future, there still appears to be a recognised culture of negativity that surrounds them.

And it’s hardly surprising. Our industry has been easy pickings for the media for years and bad care and heartless carers have not helped our cause.

At the moment too many care homes lack engagement with their local community and lack support from health services and local authorities, says the report.

The report “My Home Life: promoting quality of life in care homes” is released by Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

It follows a three year study carried out by the My Home Life programme, funded by Age UK, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, City University and Dementia UK, to explore what makes good practice in care homes and offers key recommendations about how to improve the lives of older people living and dying in care homes.

The recommendations are in many ways predictable, but it does underpin what so many West Midlands Care Association members have been saying for decades.

Sure, there is good practice aplenty within the sector, but seeing the recommendations in print and with plenty of research to back them, is heartening.

Critically, in conclusion, the report says: “With greater levels of staffing and investment, care homes will be better placed to understand and act upon the wishes and aspiration of older people.”

So much of this report is based on the need for extra money and more staff and at the sharp end of care we need both like never before.

My Home Life aims to identify what works well in creating a compassionate and caring environment within care homes so “needs, aspirations and quality of life” of residents, residents and staff are met.

The report highlights such issues as the need for homes to help preserve residents’ identity, involving residents in decision-making, connecting with community, better working with health practitioners, end of life care, the burden of paperwork and so it goes on and on.

It’s not a hard read, but there’s plenty of it. Leadership is an interesting section with the critical role of managers being the pivot on which the home’s performance rests.

Partnership working gets a mention too – locking in to community-based organisations such as schools, arts workshops and other interest groups – to keep homes earthed in a out-of-care reality.

Want to get the full works? Here’s the link: www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/care-home-quality-of-life-summary.pdf

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