4th April 2018
GP visits to care homes reduce hospital admissions by nearly 40%
A new scheme piloted in four nursing homes in east London reduced emergency bed days by 53%
21st March 2018
Funding gap for care home charges filled by service users, says report
Councils are not paying enough to fund care home places and residents are plugging the gap, new figures from care market analysis firm LaingBuisson have revealed.
According to the firm’s updated care cost benchmarks toolkit, released today, care homes for older people in England need to charge between £623 and £726 a week, depending on the standard of accommodation and whether the home provides care for people with dementia. On average, however, councils pay just £555 per week, leaving a shortfall of between £68 and £171.
16th March 2018
Pharmacists funded to work in care homes in England
NHS England is planning to fund the recruitment of 240 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to work in care homes to try to cut down on unnecessary medicines taken by the residents.
Care home residents often have one or more long-term health conditions, with some prescribed 10 or more medicines.
15th March 2018
Dementia UK lauds frontline nurses with emotional animation
Dementia UK has expressed its thanks to nurses tending to people with dementia by creating a three-minute animation to draw attention to the specialist care provided.
Together Again, conceived by Arthur London, puts the spotlight on the profession by depicting a husband and wife wrenched apart by an ocean – a metaphor for the widening gulf that can be opened up through loss of memory – before being slowly brought back together via memory triggers and sensory recall.
6th March 2018
Counting the cost of adult social care as councils set spending budgets
How to fund adult social care is a question on the lips of all councils as they finalise their budgets for the next financial year.
The Local Government Association says nationally adult social care is facing a £2.3 billion funding gap by 2020.
1st March 2018
Call for government to ditch ‘discriminatory’ PIP rules for NHS care home stays
Campaigners are calling on the government to scrap a policy that prevents disabled people with complex healthcare needs receiving the benefits they need to stay mobile if they are living in residential homes.
19th February 2018
Dementia research must study care as well as cure
Social care faces an annual funding gap of £2.3bn by 2021 – by which time nearly a million people in the UK will be living with dementia. With no way to slow or stop the diseases that cause dementia, it is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer.
15th February 2018
Social care allowances are confusing – the government must offer clarity
Anew report details an expert panel’s solution to the care crisis: for national insurance to be replaced with a new, ringfenced tax dedicated to health and social care. It contends that few people would argue with reforming and raising tax, given the severe financial and capacity pressures on services.
8th February 2018
Fears over pressure on care system as National Audit Office warns staff and funding are not sustainable
Fears have been raised over the pressures on the care system as the National Audit Office warned that funding and staffing levels are not sustainable.
In a damning report the public spending watchdog said the lack of prestige associated with working in care, poor career progression and low pay meant the sector struggled to retain staff.
28th January 2018
Social care at ‘tipping point’ as back pay crisis grows, warn councils
A crisis in social care will lead to the imminent closure of providers across the country unless ministers step in to fill a £400m black hole in back pay, councils have warned today.
23rd January 2018
Dementia sufferers 'wiped out' financially in 'unfair' care system, says Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt has pledged to reform the “unfair” system of care for the elderly which sees those with dementia “wiped out” financially.
The Health Secretary said social care in England was currently “random”, with the financial burdens on families drastically different depending on the nature of their loved-one’s illness.
19th January 2018
6 reasons why we need dementia-friendly financial services
Being able to manage our money and deal with financial services is a fundamental aspect of life. But when a person develops dementia, this can become extremely difficult and lead to feelings of lost independence.
There are currently over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This number continues to rise, with another person developing dementia every three minutes. The cost of dementia is £26 billion a year (based on 2013 cost data).
18th January 2018
Dementia study adds to calls for more funding of music therapy
Music can help reduce symptoms but only 5% of care homes are using it effectively, finds report
The symptoms of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people with dementia could significantly improve by listening to and playing music, according to a report.
The study, which compiled existing evidence as well as talking to experts, found music can help people with dementia recall information and reduce symptoms such as anxiety, agitation and aggression.
12th January 2018
Warning over 'trust' schemes supposed to help families avoid paying for care
Families are being put at risk by unregulated firms promising to help them avoid care fees and inheritance tax, lawyers and financial advisers have warned.
With average nursing care home fees now exceeding £1,000 a week for the first time last year, more families are having to navigate the maze of care funding.
11th January 2018
Ombudsman calls for councils to be clear on care home costs
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is reminding councils across England they must give families accurate information when placing relatives in care homes, following an investigation into a complaint against Lincolnshire County Council.
The investigation found a family was not told about the possibilities available to them when their father was placed in a care home as an emergency. They were left with no option but to pay a ‘top-up’ fee, when the council should have offered them the choice of a home which did not require the additional amount. When they struggled to pay the fees, their father was threatened with eviction.
10th January 2018
We need a new care deal to tackle the challenges of an ageing population
I hope this year will mark a step change for adult social care; without decisive action, the gap between those in need of care and the provision of appropriate services will widen further. It’s time to agree a new approach to ensure older people can remain active and well for as long as possible. Investment in technology is also urgently required to better promote independent living and communities designed for mobility and age.
3rd January 2018
Social care in 2018: time to think about the future workforce
The government’s forthcoming green paper on care and support for older people, and the parallel workstream on working age adults, is an opportunity for us to recognise the work of 1.45 million adult social care workers across England – and to really think about what the future workforce will look like.
25th December 2017
Voucher plan to help pay for elderly care
Tax-free vouchers like those used by parents to pay for childcare should be offered to encourage people to save towards long-term care costs, a company has proposed.
Eldercare vouchers could be used to build up a pot of savings to pay care home fees in later life or for domiciliary care at home under the plan.
20th December 2017
Government warned against using council tax to 'plug gap' in social care funding
Hiking council tax should not be used to "plug the gap" in social care funding, local authorities have warned the Government.
Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, told Sky News' All Out Politics that councils should be able to raise the tax by as much as they like to fund services.
16th December 2017
Social care postcode gap widens for older people
Council funding cuts have reduced help for the old in deprived areas, study shows
Older people in England’s most deprived areas are twice as likely to lack the help they need for basic acts, like using the toilet or taking medicine, compared with those in the richest neighbourhoods, according to figures that expose gross inequalities in access to social care.
13th December 2017
The state of social care shames us all
Why are people on the left so exercised about how we pay for social care? After all, better-off care home residents who pay their own way are each quietly subsidising to the tune of £12,000 a year those with fewer assets who are funded by councils that negotiate lower fees. What could be more socialist?
6th December 2017
David Cameron admits 'we didn't solve' problem of funding social care for Britain's ageing population
David Cameron has expressed regret he was unable to do more to deal with the “huge” challenge funding social care for Britain’s ageing population.
The former prime minister – who has since become president of Alzheimer’s Research UK – said a way had to be found to meet the “catastrophic” costs of caring for people with dementia.
1st December 2017
Sleep-in pay crisis:
should you join HMRC’s new Social Care Compliance Scheme?
The Government’s latest response to the sleep-in pay crisis is the introduction of a new Social Care Compliance Scheme (SCCS).
Under the scheme, providers who have not paid sleep-in shifts in compliance with the National Minimum Wage can self assess their non-compliance and repay workers with protection against HMRC enforcement action.
30th November 2017
Care homes: Public 'pay unfair fees to plug £1bn shortfall'
Care homes have been applying unfair charges and over-the-top fees for self-funders, an official review shows.
The Competition and Market Authority found some homes had applied large upfront costs and charged families for weeks after their relatives had died.
The watchdog also highlighted how those paying for themselves were charged much more than council-funded residents.
The average weekly charge for self-funders was £846 - 40% more than local authority rates.
28th November 2017
Care workers 'exhausted' by staff shortage
A care worker in Northern Ireland has said she feels like a "workhorse" because a shortage of staff means she often has to work 80 hours a week.
Her comments follow a BBC investigation into the current state of social care.
It reveals that on one day this month, 88 people had to stay in hospital unnecessarily, due to a wait for a suitable home care package.
The Department of Health said care demand has risen "considerably" and it is reviewing its domiciliary workforce.
14th November 2017
We can't fix social care if we think it's just for older people
There’s no doubt that one of the biggest challenges facing Britain is how we deal with our ageing population. The countless warnings about the crisis in social care leave no room for doubt. Over the last seven years, budgets have decreased by more than £6bn (pdf) in real terms, and more than 1.2 million older people are struggling to get by without proper care.
10th November 2017
Care 'will take up most of our council tax within three years': Rapid rise in costs could see fresh curbs on bin rounds, road repairs and street lighting
Most of our council tax will be needed to pay for the care of vulnerable children and the elderly within three years, councils declared yesterday.
They said the rapidly rising price of social care will mean fresh curbs on bin collections, road repairs, street lighting, buses and food safety checks.
The warning about the cost of care for the elderly and protection of children at risk was designed to pile pressure on Chancellor Philip Hammond in advance of the autumn budget. It follows a series of attempts by public sector leaders, including police chiefs and NHS managers, to extract more cash from the Chancellor.
9th November 2017
How to design websites for older people
Why it’s important to us
Dementia currently affects 850,000 people who are diagnosed. However, a dementia diagnosis also directly affects about 700,000 informal primary/family carers.
The average age of a family carer in the UK is between 60 and 65 years old. This is about 10 years older than the age where we typically begin to experience an acceleration in age-related physiological changes to our bodies.
2nd November 2017
Social care funding can't take any more setbacks. It needs reform now
For a short while, it seemed like the issue of social care funding would finally be addressed after years of government procrastination. The Conservatives promised a consultation on social care reform, U-turned on the so-called dementia tax and, instead, confirmed their intention to cap the amount people pay towards care.
But now that plans to introduce such a cap have been scrapped and the social care consultation is rumoured to have been delayed until next summer, it seems that the government has followed previous administrations and kicked social care funding into the long grass.
2nd November 2017
Overnight carer back pay scheme 'unaffordable'
Care providers have dismissed a government scheme to tackle a problem over back pay for overnight shift staff as a "suicide note".
The charity Mencap said the government was sacrificing the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society and putting the jobs of low-paid staff at risk.
Ministers said the scheme had been designed to help ensure workers were paid what they were owed.
But charities say the bill for six years of extra pay is unaffordable.
29th October 2017
Why care costs are spiralling at up to twice inflation
The average cost of a care home place has almost doubled over the past two decades and is now nearing £1,000 a week, according to the latest data.
A cruel combination of short supply, care home operators falling into financial difficulty and tightening local authority budgets means private payers – those who get no assistance with fees – are especially hard hit.
Research carried out earlier this year by industry experts LaingBuisson found that the average weekly fee for residential care with nursing had risen from £445 in 1998 to £845 this year.
27th October 2017
Lack of choice means families have to settle for poor care homes: Nearly a fifth are forced to leave loved ones in a home they have reservations about because of a shortage of places
'Systematic failures' mean half of those needing care have to wait for a bed
The lack of places meant 17 per cent of families were forced to move their loved ones into care homes that they had reservations about
And 16 per cent of families had to opt for a home away from friends and family
23rd October 2017
A job in care – what’s it worth?
While the Cavendish Coalition, with formidable representation of both the NHS and private social care sector, lobbies to protect the position of EU workers in a post-Brexit Britain, the biggest worry must be that these workers will vote with their feet.
When I last looked, 89 pence buys one Euro and many financial wallahs are predicting that the two currencies will continue to edge closer to parity. The incentive then, for EU citizens to come to the UK, or even remain here, and work is likely to dwindle; why work in an isolationist UK when similar wages can be earned in other western european countries?
But recruitment difficulties in health and social care go much deeper than Brexit and the question of overseas workers. The perception persists that care work is unskilled (it’s not); that it is a dead-end job (it’s not), and the unvarnished truth is that the low-pay status of care workers contributes significantly to these workers’ self esteem, and to how they are perceived by others.
Current wisdom is that only those care providers who truly value their staff will be successful in the long run. I hold that to be true but I think there are plenty of the Old Guard left who give lip service to valuing their staff while paying them little, enticing them with false promises of flexible working and not so much as providing even basic staff amenities.
These recruitment difficulties will not go away until some means is found to elevate care workers above their current position and to give them a fairer slice of their nation’s wealth.
The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.
20th October 2017
CQC - Changes to how we regulate adult social care services
We will begin to implement changes to how we regulate adult social care services.
From 1 November 2017:
•We will regulate services using a single assessment framework for adult social care. This will strengthen our assessment by reflecting changes to the sector, the new best practice guidance, and how providers may develop their services in future. It will also simplify the process of assessment by aligning the questions we ask of different sectors and the characteristics that reflect a rating.
•New, simplified guidance on how CQC monitors, inspects and regulates adult social care services is available on the 'Guidance for Providers' area of our website. This guidance will replace the Provider and Inspector Handbooks, and will ensure both providers and inspectors use the same guidance documents.
•We will ask providers that are repeatedly rated as requires improvement to complete an improvement action plan to show how and by when they will improve their overall rating to good.
•We will introduce more proportionate and targeted inspections. Every service will receive a comprehensive inspection which considers all five key questions. We will also conduct focused inspections, targeted on areas of concern, risk or improvements, informed by Insight and information collection.
Phased implementation from January 2018:
•We will introduce an online process for collecting information from providers via a statement of quality about the five key questions and how providers are supporting continuous improvements. We will require providers to update this at least once annually, although more frequent updates can be made to record changes in quality, including improvements. This process will first be used with a small number of providers, gradually rolling out to all providers. Our aim is for full implementation by early 2018/19.
•During the transition providers will continue to use the current system for submitting information and will gradually be invited to start using the new online process. At the same time we will continue to test and improve the questions we ask and the process we use.
From April 2018:
• We will introduce a maximum inspection interval of 30 months for comprehensive inspections for services rated as good and outstanding. Until then, we will maintain current inspection frequencies of within 24 months, underpinned by ongoing monitoring using a broader range of information sources. We will continue to follow up and respond to risks and concerns through the use of focused inspections at any time. We will engage with stakeholders in advance of extending further the inspection interval for services rated as outstanding.
20th October 2017
What is lasting power of attorney?
For a person with a diagnosis of dementia, there may come a time when they are unable to make decisions about their care and their finances. A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document appointing one, or more, trusted people to be their attorney(s). An attorney is a person responsible for making decisions on their behalf.
There are two types of LPA. It is possible to draw up one, or both. The same attorney(s) can be appointed for both, or someone different can be appointed for each. They are:
Health and welfare, which appoints an attorney to make decisions regarding medical care, future care needs such as moving into a care home, and life-sustaining treatment. It can only be used once the person can no longer make their own decisions.
Property and financial affairs, which appoints an attorney to make decisions regarding managing a bank or building society account, paying bills, collecting benefits or a pension, or buying and selling a house. This can be used immediately if the person making it gives their permission.
An LPA is only valid in England and Wales. People in Northern Ireland can contact the Office of Care and Protection for advice on 028 9072 5953 (or visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/managing-your-affairs-and-enduring-power-attorney).
People in Scotland can contact the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) on 01324 678398 (website: www.publicguardian-scotland.gov.uk).
13th October 2017
Discrimination and misplaced stoicism: why older people's mental health gets overlooked
“There is age discrimination, but I don’t think it’s deliberate,” England says. “We’ve become fixated on dementia in older adults as the one mental health issue to focus on, and common mental health problems of anxiety and low mood get neglected.”
One in five older people suffer from depression, yet their mental health problems often go unrecognised and they are much less likely to get psychological help than younger people. A government target, set in 2011 – for older people in England to make up 12% of referrals to psychological therapies – was missed by a mile.
12th October 2017
NHS leaders unveil action to boost flu vaccination and manage winter pressures
NHS England, Public Health England, the Department of Health and NHS Improvement have today unveiled measures to boost the uptake of flu vaccinations along with package of new contingency actions to respond to pressures on frontline services this winter. Intensified preparations include:
•Providing free flu vaccines for hundreds of thousands of care home staff at a cost of up to £10m as well as increasing the number of jabs for young children in schools and vulnerable people
•Directing NHS trusts to ensure they make vaccines readily available to staff and record why those who choose to opt out of the programme do so
•Writing to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers reminding them of their professional duty to protect patients by being vaccinated
•Setting up a new National Emergency Pressure Panel to provide independent clinical advice on system risk and an appropriate regional and national response
•The biggest expansion in training for A&E consultants ever with hundreds more doctors over the next four years and other healthcare staff
10th October 2017
CQC's annual assessment of health and social care in England now available
The report looks at the trends, highlights examples of good and outstanding care, and identifies factors that maintain high-quality care.
3rd October 2017
Most councils will not have enough care home places
Care of the elderly, or social care, has rarely been so high up the political agenda. Indeed, it blighted the Conservatives’ manifesto launch at the last election. Now a new report seen exclusively by Channel 4 News reveals that in five years’ time, nine out of ten local authorities in England will not have enough care home places to match the demand of the growing elderly population.
30th September 2017
Dementia is a terrible word. Why do people still use it?
Dementia is a word with a horrific impact.
I’m talking about the word and its origins, not the disease. I have observed people living well with dementia and this antiquated and negative term belittles the contribution to society that they can make. I am in my third year of a PhD and my research is based in care homes where I get to observe good care that challenges, includes and promotes a sense of purpose for residents with dementia. Before this I worked as a community nurse.
29th September 2017
Carrying the shopping can improve strength in over-65s, say experts
Carrying the shopping, gardening, or vacuuming, can help older people to lead healthier lives for longer, according to leading physiotherapists.
They warn that millions of older people risk falls because they are failing to maintain their strength.
Nearly a quarter of over-65s don't do any strength exercises, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) says.
And it warns that the rise of internet shopping means fewer people carry home their groceries.
Physiotherapists say not enough people realise the need to maintain strength as we age.