Who’s keeping a finger on the pulse of care in care homes for the elderly?

The results of a ‘care homes survey’ carried out by PULSE make for interesting reading.  Interesting, but also shocking for anyone who has ever questioned the standards of care in a care home with nursing.

A significant minority of the 100 PCOs responding to Freedom of Information Act requests do not provide even basic care-home services, with 14% providing no access to tissue viability nursing, and 10% have no access to continence advisers.

The investigation, which involved submitting three separate FOI requests to each PCO, reveals the patchy nature of services across the NHS, as well as the headline findings of soaring numbers of serious incidents and sharp funding cuts.

Of the GP practices that responded to the survey:

67% say that the funding they receive for the care of patients in care homes is not adequate for them to provide a safe and effective service.  14% say it is adequate; 19% don’t know.

61% say that the arrangements for the medical and nursing care of patients in care homes is not organised satisfactorily in their area.  26% say it is satisfactory; 13% don’t know.

41% say that on unscheduled call-outs, they ‘sometimes’ receive the information and nursing back-up they need.  9% say they always receive it; 28% often; 19% occasionally; 3% never.

40% provide once a year medication reviews for patients in care homes.  33% once every six months; 17% once every three months.

60% said they were ‘sometimes’ left with no option but to prescribe antipsychotics to patients with dementiathat is unacceptable, a totally unacceptable way to treat patients with dementia, if ‘treat’ is the right word.

42% rated the nursing care of patients in their local care homes for the elderly as acceptable.  5% ‘very good’; 23% ‘good’; 23% rated the care ‘poor’;  6% rated the care ‘very poor’.

44% rated the nursing care of patients in their local nursing homes as acceptable

48% had observed Staff sloppy or unprofessional in their local care homes.

40% found Staff lacking in compassion

72% found Poor quality of staff training

47% found Patients denied their dignity or sufficient stimulus

6% found Evidence or suggestion of abuse by staff

And yet:

65 & of those GP practices had not complained in the last year about the quality of care for residents in care homes;

23% had complained;

12% don’t know.


58% of those GP practices who had complained did not know whether the complaint was satisfactorily investigated by their primary care organisation

24% felt it was not satisfactorily investigated

17% felt it was.

Many more staggering statistics in the full survey report, but it is distressing to read that 53% of those who responded found that Mental Health Care services and 34% that Continence Support were being savagely cut for care home residents.

Dr Krishna Chaturvedi, a GP in Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex, said: ‘Our practice has served more than 10 residential homes for 20 years but due to the increasing stress, we decided to take all homes off the list after making several pleas to the SHA and PCT for extra support, none of which was forthcoming.’

Is this really what we mean by “CARE”?

The vast majority of people in need of residential care, with or without nursing, come from  a generation of stalwarts that grew accustomed to the understanding that if you want a job done properly, you should “do it yourself”.  And they did just that, for as long as they possibly could.   There are some things they no longer can do for themselves.  If Cameron and Clegg and Co. continue with their vicious cuts campaign, they will force that generation to suffer the consequences.

Is it time for the words care home to be erased from our vocabulary?

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Filed under care homes, growing older, neglect, NHS, professional responsibility

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