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By Debbie le Quesne

Posts Tagged ‘Lords Committee

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.
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