By Debbie le Quesne

Archive for the ‘National Care Homes Open Day’ Category

Dignity Action Day – the event that should never end

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Just incase you’ve missed the news, it’s Dignity Action Day tomorrow (Saturday) – a campaign that attempts to vastly improve the lives of those who need social, nursing and health care.

Dame Joan Bakewell, Dignity in Care ambassador sums up the goals perfectly: “Dignity Action Day highlights a more respectful way of behaving towards vulnerable people. The very old and the very young clearly need our respect, but it wouldn’t do any harm to spread the dignity message across the population then we can all benefit.”

Upholding people’s rights for dignity is surely a duty for all of us, whether in the care sector or not. To this end, events to promote the campaign have been happening all over the UK – everything from champagne and canapés afternoons to senior disco dances have been held.

Treating fellow members of our community with respect is something most of us do automatically – but sometimes in our enthusiasm to help, or just speed things along, we can steal the dignity of those who are most vulnerable.

I recall one training session where West Midlands Care Association had feedback on their workshop from carers. They were good students and some had been in care settings for many years, but one admitted to “struggling to not be in full control.”

Dignity in action is not necessarily about grand gestures, it’s about remaining aware of others’ needs and supporting their abilities . . . it’s about treating others the way we would wish to be treated.

Dignity Champions pledge to challenge poor care and act as good role models to others. They include health and social care managers and frontline staff, doctors, nurses, MPs, councillors, members of local action groups and people from voluntary groups, who believe being treated with dignity is a basic human right, not an optional extra.

There’s a 10 point Dignity Challenge we can commit to:

1. Have a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse.

2. Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family.

3. Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service.

4. Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control.

5. Listen and support people to express their needs and wants.

6. Respect people’s right to privacy.

7. Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution.

8. Engage with family members and carers as care partners.

9. Assist people to maintain confidence and positive self-esteem.

10. Act to alleviate people’s loneliness and isolation.

One thing that has thrilled me during this campaign and it’s this: It doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Dignity events are still on calendars – and long may they be so.

Have a good weekend . . . and for those who have trouble to enhance the dignity cause, a huge thank you.

Highs and lows of the passing year

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I have been thinking (dangerous I know) of what to blog on New Year’s Eve. There has been so much miserable news over the last 12 months that has both shaped and scarred the care industry.

But there have been some incredible triumphs and opportunities too where as an association we have been able to bring influence to the movers and shakers.

In recent months we have been able to respond to the Telegraph article on ‘the scandal of secret mark-ups’ and correct the over-generous figure of £486 a week quoted for the average care bed price paid by local authorities for a realistic £384.99. And we have argued also that self-funders are indeed to the difference between many home closure and survival in these difficult financial times.

Let’s take a look at the care sector highlights over the last year . . .

  • In January we had the so-called revelations on the Dilnot report where the long-awaited capping of care costs for individuals was set at a far higher £75,000 than the recommendation of £25,000 t0 £50,000. We were hoping for clarity and certainty and we got neither.
  • Domiciliary care agencies had been saying it for years, and in January the NHS Confederation adding to the chorus: GP and community services should receive a higher proportion of NHS spend to enable more care to be carried outside hospital, said the Confederation chief. Mike Farrar said in his New Year message that he would like to see ‘more investment in primary, community, mental health and social care services as a proportion of the total spend’. And wouldn’t we all?
  •  We also saw our MPs in confessional mode on dealing with mental illness – a brave and laudable move and one that could only help the funding issues around this care specialism.
  • In February the Lords Committee investigation into the growth of the section of society above retirement age tabled some scary facts, prompting calls for a proper plan to cope with the dramatic increase in those aged over 65.
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Patients’ Association also joined forces in a move to speed up action on concerns over poor elderly care.
  • And there was a groundbreaking social media project, which aimed to trigger past memories in people with dementia, is to be piloted in Scotland. The Memory Box Network is a charity which aims to use online reminiscence therapy to increase the quality of life of those who live with dementia, which affects around 84,000 people in Scotland. The team developed a website where users can view and upload content to act as a talking point between the person with dementia their carers and loved ones.
  • In March the Joseph Rowntree Foundation encouraged care homes not fall victim of negative stereotypes. 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 was based on the need for extra money and more staff and at the sharp end of care and still we need both like never before.
  • I loved the newsbreak on the care home where charity Magic Me was holding cocktail nights specifically aimed at bringing in new faces to residential care settings and establishing a larger friends network. Sadly, I never did receive my invitation.
  • The chancellor also announced that a modified version of proposals laid out in Dilnot report would be brought forward by a year to . . . wait for it, 2016.
  • April gave us Good Care Week Good Care Week, a national platform to be show off excellence in care and a fantastic initiative.
  • Also in April was the announcement that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) would be introducing bigger, more expert inspection teams to police the industry.
  • May’s centre stage event was work by pupils in Sandwell who created visuals to help understand dementia. It was a real privilege to be part of The Sandwell Dementia Friendly Event.
  • June came with a new buzzword – integration where NHS and social care funding pots combine. Hmm . . . My abiding concern in the ‘real world’ of caring is that there are huge divides still between social care and the NHS – not an easy fix; inadequate funding – CCGs are being asked to give two per cent of their budgeting to this cause and already cash is tight; there’s the political issue of who gets priority; and frankly, I don’t believe the initiative will fix the billions of pounds shortfall politicians are speaking of.
  • July – When you don’t know the way ahead, ask a care worker on the frontline. Well, at least that seemed exactly what the government was doing. Care minister Norman Lamb called for everyone in the care mix – service users, carers, managers and directors to submit ideas on how to make the home care system work.
  • August came with more agendas on the Care Bill, this time with a Prevention Matters initiative where investment into first-line social care was being sought as a way of saving NHS treatment costs.
  • Author Sir Terry Pratchet was in the news in September after going public with an update about his particular dementia condition and a memory lane street created at care home near Bristol. Great if you can afford this kind of therapy.
  • October saw headlines stating there was a RGN crisis in nursing homes. Burt there was joy for the National Care Homes Open Day with 2,500 care providers taking part.
  • Also in this month Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt found the solution to an ageing population and poor funding: Adopt the Asian culture in caring. The British way was deeply flawed, he maintained, so we must look overseas for sustainable answers. Hmmm . . . I’ve been privileged to travel a lot and what has struck me most in these cultures is the poverty, sickness, neglect and chronic conditions.
  • November saw The Work Foundation suggest that social care apprenticeships could “strengthen the pipeline for future talent.” The flouting of the minimum wage law was also highlighted this month with investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs finding that of the completed 183 investigations, 48 per cent of employers had paid workers below the national minimum wage, set at £6.31 for adults. And so to December: It’s still Bah, humbug! Over funding from government but good will to the elderly from the young all over the country was in evidence. One very good piece of news in this month was Mr Cameron calling for an international summit to address the global problems of Alzheimer’s disease.

Watch the video and laugh out loud and get the message

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A few days ago I was blogging about MPs backing a competition to find the UK’s Care Home Idol.

The talent competition, which is being run by carehome.co.uk, the leading online guide to care homes, is looking for the care home resident with the most talent.

The aim of the competition is to challenge ageist stereotypes and show that many people in care homes live happy and fulfilling lives.

Entries for the online competition already include a group of care home residents doing the infamous Harlem Shake plus the Oldest Choir in the World. To view the ‘Harlem Shake’ video, go to http://www.carehome.co.uk/idol/idol.cfm/id/44 <http://www.carehome.co.uk/idol/idol.cfm/id/44>

MP Tracey Crouch, vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, said: “I hope this initiative highlights some of the many examples of good practice across the care home sector and that others follow their lead.”

“Music can be very beneficial to the wellbeing of older people particularly those with dementia. Active engagement and enjoyment is key to helping older people stay happy and healthy.”

The competition has been launched to challenge people’s preconceptions of care homes and show that many people in care homes live happy and fulfilling lives.

Davina Ludlow, director of carehome.co.uk, said: “Care Home Idol is an annual competition that will open a window on the active and talented communities that thrive inside care homes.

“When you look at the performances that have already been uploaded to carehome.co.uk you see people sharing songs, jokes and memories. You see smiles, you see people having fun. It is also another way residents and their families can stay in touch.

“Care Home Idol aims to help break down the barriers that can exist between a care home and the wider communities they serve. It also shows the warm relationships that can exist between the staff and the residents.”

Karen Allen, manager of Waterfield House care home, which has entered the Harlem Shake video said: “The negativity of care homes really gets us down when there is no good publicity to show there are some really caring and loving places out there.

“The residents absolutely loved it [the Harlem Shake] and still talk about it now – the video brings a smile to all who watch it.”

The initiative also has the backing of Des Kelly, executive director of the National Care Forum. He said: “I think Care Home Idol is a great idea. I welcome this initiative as a means of challenging the negative perceptions that seem to dominate the care home sector unfairly.

“The videos are excellent and are the ways in which we need to be getting across the idea to the public that care homes are not always how they are perceived in the national media.”

The competition is open to people who live, work and perform in Britain’s 20,000 care homes, and the winners will be announced in April 2014. There are two categories – residents and entertainers and anyone can vote.

Feeling inspired? Let’s see if we can get a good representation from our West Midlands Care Association members.

Please take a few moments to view the latest promotional video and a cameo of some of the acts. Priceless! http://www.carehome.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1561088/carehome-co-uk-launches-care-home-idol

Good news on National Care Home Open Day

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I’ve just got some figures for this year’s first National Care Home Open Day – the event which offered the public to take a real-life look at what residential care is all about

More than 2,500 care homes across the country collectively opened their doors to the public for the first ever event of its kind on June 21.

Run by a group of leading care providers and associations, the National Care Home Open Day aimed to connect care homes with their local communities, challenge misconceptions about residential care and show local people the excellent services that are at the heart of their community.

It was, and still is, a fantastic tool in re-educating the general public about the good work we all do.

The open day allowed people to see for themselves the level of care available to their loved ones. It also provided a great opportunity to invite members of local communities across the country to consider becoming a volunteer in their local care home.

Dozens of MPs visited care homes across the country, including prominent frontbenchers such as Michael Gove and Douglas Alexander.

The initiative achieved great media coverage for all the right reasons and if you should want a reason for joining in next time around, this single thing should be good enough.

I admit that changing preconceptions is always going to be a slow burn, but at least some 2,500 lit the torch.

Baroness Bakewell, National Care Home Open Day Ambassador, was reported in Caring Times as saying: ”The National Care Home Open Day was an important event to participate in. It was a great opportunity for people to see the range of care services at the heart of their communities.

”Care homes, and most importantly the residents who live there, are an invaluable part of our communities. The National Care Home Open Day helped to connect the residents and staff with their local communities.”

To learn more visit: http://www.nationalcarehomeopenday.org.uk/

Lib Dems vote for higher standards in home care

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Delegates at the Lib Dems’ Conference  approved a motion aimed at raising the standards of home care for the elderly, disabled and vulnerable.

It sets out plans to ensure patients are treated by the best-trained staff and to prevent abuse, bullying and harassment of home care staff and patients – all very nobel.

But of course, this little snipped is from their recent party conference, now eclipsed by news from the Labour event. I wonder what else our MPs will promise. Winning numbers for the Saturday Lottery tickets?

I really do find it hard to believe any of theses electioneering type of promises. Was there ever a time when our leading MPs were without advisers, spin doctors and media managers? Of course, I’m far too young to remember.

Fears over quality of training in Worcestershire as budgets shrink

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All credit to Worcestershire County council for providing a large programme of free training for the care sector. But like many other local authorities they have a massively reduced budget and training costs for independent sector providers is one of the areas under threat. I applaud the fact that they’re still offering a wide range of courses, but a course cancellation fee of £45 has been introduced. In a creative approach to cost cutting, the council is also running courses from premises owned by various care providers in order to avoid the hire fees at other venues. Some courses will in future be subsidised, rather than free and “train-the-trainer” sessions are likely to be introduced to allow providers to cascade certain training within their organisation.  Providers are also being encouraged to undertake e-learning in certain situations. Although these measures will hopefully eek out the council’s training budget, it remains to be seen whether the quality of the training can be maintained. The link between the quality of staff training and the standard of services delivered is well established. Sadly, reducing the training budget will almost inevitably erode the quality of training with the inevitable impact on front-line services. There’s an irony here: Those services are increasingly being monitored against ever-higher higher standards. By whom? You’ve guessed – the very same county council.

Putting jargon into plain English

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Jargon – I hate it, but live with every day. It’s the thing that so often defines what we do.

So I was thrilled to see that the Social Care Institute for Excellence has produced the Jargon Buster www.thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk/_library/AIJargonBusterFINAL.pdf that puts 52 of the most commonly used phrases and words into plain English.

As one would hope the explanations are simple and thorough. I’ve picked out a few snippets to share in this blog. Here goes: Adult social care – Care and support for adults who need extra help to manage their lives and be independent; Advocacy  –­ Help to enable you to get the care and support you need that is independent of your local council; Broker (also called ‘care navigator’) – Someone whose job it is to provide you with advice and information about what services are available in your area, so that you can choose to purchase the care and support that best meets your needs; Commissioner ­– A person or organisation that plans the services that are needed by the people who live in the area the organisation covers, and ensures that services are available; Co-production – When you as an individual are involved as an equal partner in designing the support and services you receive.

And the list goes on: Personalisation – A way of thinking about care and support services that puts you at the centre of the process of working out what your needs are, choosing what support you need and having control over your life; Reablement – A way of helping you remain independent, by giving you the opportunity to relearn or regain some of the skills for daily living that may have been lost as a result of illness, accident or disability; Resource Allocation System – The system some councils use to decide how much money people get for their support; Self-directed support – An approach to social care that puts you at the centre of the support planning process, so that you can make choices about the services you receive.

And finally, the last of my examples: Signposting – Pointing people in the direction of information that they should find useful; Universal services – Services such as transport, leisure, health and education that should be available to everyone in a local area and are not dependent on assessment or eligibility; Wellbeing – Being in a position where you have good physical and mental health, control over your day-to-day life, good relationships, enough money, and the opportunity to take part in the activities that interest you.

The work has been commissioned by Think Local Act Personal and contributers include Age UK, Carers Trust, Department of Health, Independent Age, Local Government Association, National Coproduction Advisory Group, Royal College of General Practitioners, SCOPE and Voiceability.

My only concern about this nice piece is of work it will not get to the people who need it most. It’s online, but who would search for jargon busting for social care?

I’m sure though, we can all ‘signpost’ people to the relevant information . . .

Safeguarding: A need to open doors

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Action on Elder Abuse is campaigning for sweeping changes in the Care Bill – with safeguarding issues grabbing the headlines.

The pressure group is also defining a course of action rank and file care sector workers can take to help place existing infrastructure of adult protection onto a statutory basis.

In 2007, following publication of the Prevalence Study into the extent of elder abuse within the community, the Government committed to a refresh of the No Secrets guidance on safeguarding vulnerable adults, with particular reference to the legislation underpinning adult protection policy. This review was finally concluded in 2009. A large number of issues were identified by that review, the majority of which are not addressed by the current Care Bill.

Simply, AEA is saying the current clauses are not stiff enough to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

So what’s AEA looking to achieve?

Powers to stop abusers imprisoning victims in their own homes.

Some 40 per cent of referrals are regarding victims in their own homes. The law needs to allow, through a court process, entry into the homes of potential victims. All too often that access is dependent upon the co-operation of the abuser.

A duty on agencies to notify the Local Authority if they believe an adult may be at risk of abuse. There is a need to underline the responsibility of all agencies to report if they have reasonable belief that an adult is at risk.

Adequate Funding:

The greatest number of referrals to adult safeguarding is older people and, referrals are increasing year on year by at least 11 per cent. At the same time local authorities are making significant cuts in services, with a significant proportion affecting older people’s services. Funding limitations must not dictate whether an abused adult receives intervention.

There must be a minimum expectation of what we will collectively consider financially acceptable to invest in these activities, and this must be reflected in our financial priorities.

Clearly, given the gravitas of AEA and its robust response, something is wrong. Our most vulnerable it appears are still vulnerable.

What can you do?

  • Write to peers indicating your support for Baroness Greengross’ amendments. She is supporting the AEA proposed amendments.
  • Encourage others to get involved
  • If you work in this area, send examples to the AEA enquiries@elderabuse.org.uk of where a power of access would have been necessary

Already on deck pushing for powers of access are Mencap, the College of Social Work, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and Age UK.

Dementia dogs are just ‘paw-fect’

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Friday is always deserving of a happy ‘tail’ or two. So today I have one for you – and I love it.

A golden retriever called Oscar and a Labrador called Kaspa are the nation’s fist dementia dogs.

They have been working with their new owners for four months after 18 months of training.

These clever creatures have been taught to respond to alarms and bring medicine pouches, to nudge their owners to go and read a reminder, and to encourage them to get out of bed in the morning. Just how clever is that!

The dogs work with two people who are in the early stages of the memory-loss condition.

The idea came from students at Glasgow School of Art’s (GSA) Product Design department and was then developed by a partnership between Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled and Guide Dogs Scotland.

Both animals have been highly trained to help offer practical assistance and reduce social isolation and anxiety levels. And there are a couple of other dogs now in training too.

A further two dogs have already begun their training.

Clearly this could herald a new era in the way people with dementia and their carers are supported.

Oscar was withdrawn from guide dog training and passed across to the Dementia Dog project, whilst Kaspa came from the Dogs for the Disabled socialisation project.

Volunteers started work with them as puppies and at just over a year old they moved into the Guide Dogs Training Centre at Forfar, where they were trained for their new role, with help of staff from Dogs for the Disabled, based in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

I’m such a softie. I love these dogs soooooo much, but seriously, their work opens a whole new approach to dealing with this awful disease.

Hope this blog is just ‘paw-fect’ to raise a smile. Have a good weekend.

Ping Pong! Why you’re never too old to go for gold

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Every now and then the care industry throws up a gem – and none more so than a project called the Ping Pong Care Campaign.

It’s all about a BRITDOC Foundation UK tour centred on a remarkable documentary film.

The aim is to show the film – Ping Pong – to 2,000 “older person settings” in the UK.

And the clips I have seen from the film are amazing. People pushing towards 100 years of age playing ping pong . . . and some, playing well, One woman recalls how the game had been her lifeline after the death of her husband and another, who had survived cancer twice, was determined to just keep playing.

In short, the film is nothing other than inspiring and shows how stereotypes can be torn down in a moment.

The film was released in July 2012 and has already been screened to some 50 cinemas in the UK. It’s been shown in the US, Canada, Poland and Taiwan.

Campaign bosses are urging care homes sheltered housing schemes, care villages, community and day centres to screen the movie as inspiration for more active lifestyles in senior years.

My first recollections of table tennis were at youth clubs in church halls. But all that has changed

“Ping! is a street table tennis project funded by Sport England that has changed the face of ping pong.  What began as a tentative flirtation with the game has turned into a massive love affair that has changed the landscape of ping pong across England,” Care Industry News reports.

The project has been running for three years and to date 800 public ping-pong tables have been installed as part of the Ping! project.

I love these kind of stories that expose just what older people can do. We hear too often all the things elderly cannot do.

Please, please, please, catch www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qru5cnfxE0#at=16  . . . the link is wonderful.