Like lots of people with an interest in social care I have been following the travails of Four Seasonsover the last few days. For anyone not up to speed, Four Seasons is a major care home provider in this country, with some 17,000 predominantly older residents and 25,000 staff. Four Seasons is now reportedly in financial difficulty and the regulator of the social care sector, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has called for its biggest creditor to confirm that it will stand behind the company and not allow it to collapse. [Although it has since won a reprieve until April 2018, the uncertainty over its longer-term future continues].
Last week, Age UK launched its General Election campaign – Dignity in Older Age– which aims to tackle some of the key issues that millions of older people continue to face. Things like difficulties accessing the care and support they so desperately need, living in poverty and struggling to make ends meet, and facing a later life of loneliness.
Our new Older People’s Care Survey has found that four in five councils report not having enough care in their area to meet demand. That means over 6.4 million older people live in these places with insufficient provision.
Older people’s care is important to all of us. Good quality care supports older people to enjoy old age with comfort and dignity. When it is not available or not affordable it causes entirely avoidable suffering, creates stress and worry for families, and often forces people into an impossible balancing act to look after a loved one alongside other responsibilities. Continue reading “Guest blog: How shortages in care are failing older people”
This guest post was contributed by Kristen Stephenson, Volunteering Development Manager, at NCVO
The Volunteering in Care Homes’ Projectwas a three year pilot project funded by the Department of Health to evaluate the impact of volunteers on the quality of life of older residents in care homes. The evaluation showed a profound impact on the social and emotional wellbeing aspects of quality of life and quality of care for older residents.
96% of staff and volunteers reported a positive impact on the social contact that residents had
90% of staff and volunteers recorded that they thought volunteers had a positive impact on residents’ feeling of safety
for relatives, additional eyes and ears contributed to their peace of mind
If you’ve ever made a massive purchase like buying a home or taken out a large loan or mortgage, as you picked up the pen to sign on the dotted line, you might well have had your doubts about whether you’d really read and understood all the small print. Moving into a care home is another one of those huge decisions, with major consequences if you get it wrong. So it’s just as vital to understand what you’re signing.
Yet moving into a care home is frequently a hurried and pressurised decision, which for many comes after a spell in hospital. People are often ill, facing the stress of living with new levels of disability and confronting the reality of losing their home, community and identity. Some will also have reduced mental capacity. At times like these reading the small print is often not a priority and, in any case, many people are faced with limited options so can feel they have no choice but to agree to the home’s terms and conditions. Continue reading “‘Stuck in the middle’ – Self funders in care homes”
Last week marked 2015’s Carers Week- a week dedicated to raising awareness about the vital role carers play in their community, and most importantly, a week dedicated to giving carers a treat.
The week, organised by Age UK and six other supporting organisations, focused this year on ‘building carer-friendly communities’. Each day had a theme of its own, with Older Carers Day falling on Friday 12 June. Carers Week this year fell helpfully within the first month of the new parliament, and only two months after the first round of Care Act regulations protecting carers’ rights were implemented for the first time- a hot topic of conversation throughout the week.
All in all, this year’s Carers Week was the most successful yet. The Parliamentary launch event which you can read about here, saw over 130 MPs meeting carers and finding out what it’s really like to care for a loved one on a daily basis. The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, even dropped in to an Older Carers Day Cream Tea in his constituency. He thanked the carers he got to meet, and commented on the importance of their role within Britain’s ageing society. We hope this will be the start of a positive and fruitful relationship with the new parliament as we work to make sure carers get the support they deserve.
Outside the political arena, other advances were made to improve the wellbeing of carers. Often caring can take a huge physical and emotional toll on the carer, so events like Carers Oxfordshire’s ‘Because I’m Worth It’ where older carers developed a wellbeing plan for themselves, are essential. Carers across the country were offered massages, free cakes at local cafes, and opportunities to have a chat with people who understand what it’s like to care. In addition, there were thousands of information and advice events- like Age UK Cheshire East’s information stand in a local Sainsbury’s – which are vital for making sure carers get the information they need to stay well. Keeping a carer well is, of course, linked to keeping the person they care for well, too.
At the final count before the week launched, over 2,200 individuals and organisations had signed up, there were 1,730 pledges of support and thousands of events set to take place around the UK- it seems there is no shortage of care for carers.