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November 2018
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Care homes must not be 'islands of the old' says new report

Care homes will play an ever-increasing role in supporting older people in the future yet are being held back by a culture of -negativity and -stigma felt by both care workers and older people.

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 this week by Joseph Rowntree Foundation at the National Children and Adults Services (NCAS) Conference.

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.

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.

Tom Owen, Co-Director of My Home Life said: -There is a culture within the UK of care homes being something to dread and avoid at all costs which we need to work hard to change. Care homes can provide compassionate care and companionship for many older people who are at a vulnerable stage in their lives.

While we know there is lots of good practice out there, too many care homes experience mistrust from the community and statutory services which only serves to increase their feeling of isolation and reduce their capacity to deliver a positive experience for older people. Quality in care homes has to be the responsibility of the whole community, not just the staff. We want to place care homes at the heart of the local community, helping them to open their doors and encouraging people in to share in the life of the home.

Alongside a move to place residents at the centre of care home life, the report calls for greater leadership within the sector, with on-going professional development encouraged at all levels.

John Kennedy, Director of Care Services at the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust added:

-The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust are committed to improving older people’s quality of life in existing residential and care home settings. The My Home Life report highlights some really great practice at care homes up and down the country. We need to learn from these examples and make it the culture in all care homes.

-We also need to recognise the challenges care homes and their managers face. As a society, we must be more engaged in the essential work they do and relate to them in a more appreciative way; whether that be how we regulate them; how we resource them; and indeed how we talk about them. We all may need their services one day so we should start improving the relationships now for all our sakes.

The report also calls on the Government and statutory agencies to work on streamlining paper work to reduce the amount of time that care home managers spend on -bureaucracy freeing up more time to make sure that all care is -relationship-centred and residents are given more voice, choice and control over how they are cared for.

Staff working in care homes should be given -protected time in which they are able to get to know residents and their families better.

A culture of negativity around care homes due to cases of abuse regularly featured in the media can, the report suggests, devalue the complex work that care home staff do; leading some of them to feel embarrassed about telling their friends where they work.

The report can be downloaded from www.jrf.org.uk. Also attached.

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