No one who has a relative or friend that has required a care or nursing home bed in recent times can be unaware of the problems now being set out so graphically (Overstretched, underfunded. Care of the Elderly is in Crisis … Special Report last week).
It is the consequences of the `overstretched` that must be of greatest worry for both current and future residents. There will be increasing pressure to rush personal care, resulting in possible mishandling and injury, along with the potential for psychological intimidation and more general abuse. In policy initiative and operational terms it should be assumed this is more likely to happen than not in a closed environment. Just look at the scandals involving prisons, boarding schools, children`s residential facilities, and even football clubs.
The Care Quality Commission cannot be expected to more than touch the surface in trying to prevent abuse. The time lapse between inspections will always leave it with the `day after` worry – the risk that something might happen just after the inspection. Last week`s report also showed that staff and relatives have difficulties in bringing attention to abuses.
What is needed is an opening up of the closed care environment. To do this why not make care home placements a standard part of the nursing curriculum? Nearly 20,000 young optimistically-minded beginning professionals, supported by their trainers, would make a huge difference by their presence in care homes.
Letter written by Morton Warner, Emeritus Professor of Health Policy and Strategy, published in The Observer, 18th December 2016