Care home operators under financial pressure

Recent reports in the media suggest severe financial difficulties being suffered by the UK’s care home sector.

The Advinia Group is apparently under scrutiny from the CQC in terms of its cash flow and financial management. Advinia operates 38 homes in England and Scotland including 22 homes that it took over from BUPA in 2018, and is the UK’s 10th largest care home operator.    It has been asked to submit to an independent audit of its finances under the CQC’s market oversight scheme. The Guardian newspaper reported on 6 October that leaked papers it had seen showed Advinia was not generating enough cash to meet capital and interest repayments, and had refused to submit to the independent audit.  The CQC notified local authorities at the end of August of its concerns regarding the Advinia Group.

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Highlighting issues regarding sex and dementia

The Guardian has today highlighted the tricky issues regarding dementia patients and sex.

With the onset of dementia, residents of care homes are likely to lose legal capacity and with that the ability to consent to sexual activity. However the onset of old age and dementia does not mean the desire for sexual activity and physical relationships disappears. It is also recognised that positive physical relationships are beneficial to an elderly person’s mental health and well-being.

In addition, this is of course a delicate subject for the families of residents to deal with. The article in the Guardian today highlights a case study of an elderly couple who had moved into a care home together. The couple’s adult children became disturbed by their physical relationship and a decision was made for them to live on separate floors within the home. This resulted in a lot of upset for the couple with them displaying more challenging behaviours.

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CQC report highlights failings in dental care across the care sector

The CQC has today released a review of oral health and dental care provided to those in care homes. The report concludes that this is poorly implemented in care homes.  The review is based on 100 visits to different care homes by dental inspectors and oral health specialists.

There are specific NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines to cover dental care for persons living in residential care but in the majority of cases these were not being followed.  Residents generally had their oral health assessed upon admission, but often care home staff were not aware of the NICE guidelines and had not had specific training on oral health.  More worryingly, over half of the care homes surveyed had no policy to promote oral health, and nearly three quarters of the care plans reviews did not cover oral health or only partly covered it.

The CQC comment in the foreword to the report highlights the fact that the elderly of today generally are more likely to retain their teeth than earlier generations.  Good oral care is essential for those in care homes to reduce pain and reduce the risk of malnutrition.  Oral care was also often not joined up meaning that when emergency dental treatment was required, the homes would call a GP, or 111, or send the person to A&E – thereby placing a strain on already overworked services.

The care sector should carefully consider this report with a view to future policies and management of residents’ oral health otherwise this may be an area that residents and families focus upon in terms of claiming for damages.

The CQC’s report can be found here:  https://www.cqc.org.uk/publications/major-report/smiling-matters-oral-health-care-care-homes


Written by Jennifer Johnston at BLM

Celebrating work in the care sector as minister reports on delayed Green Paper

A very enjoyable evening yesterday at the National Care Association Summer Reception hosted by Howdens Insurance brokers. We hear a lot of negativity around care services, so it was lovely to spend an evening celebrating all the incredible work that is performed in the care sector.

We heard an interesting address by Caroline Dineage, Minister of State for Health, including a mention of the long-delayed Green Paper on social care – which isn’t going to be published any time soon. The Green Paper is intended to explore the issue of how social care is funded by recipients and consider a range of proposals including a more generous means test, a cap on lifetime care charges and tac-free withdrawals from pension pots. When it is finally published, it will simply set out a range of recommendations for further consultation so any reforms to the current system will be even further down the line.  During her address, the Minister also repeated her previous words of caution that, when published, the Green Paper will not solve all the challenges of social care.

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GMB Union highlights attacks on care workers

Ahead of its annual conference, the GMB Union has released figures based on Freedom of Information Requests showing more than 6,000 attacks on care workers by violent residents in the last five years.

The Freedom of Information request was made by the GMB Union to the HSE in respect of attacks reported to the HSE.  Of those attacks, over 5,000 resulted in care workers having to take over seven days off work.

In publicising these statistics, the GMB notes that this figure of over 6,000 attacks on care workers is probably not necessarily representative of what care workers face on a daily basis – as these attacks reported to the HSE will be the ones only deemed serious enough to report.

Publicity surrounding these figures has stated that these high levels of attacks are symptomatic of understaffing in the care sector.

Further information can be found here:  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/09/6000-residential-care-workers-suffer-violent-attacks


jb-85-1.jpgWritten by Jennifer Johnston at BLM

 

Have things changed since Winterbourne View?

What the BBC and the CQC tell us about abuse of vulnerable patients

An undercover investigation by BBC Panorama (‘Undercover Hospital Abuse Scandal’ – 22 May 2019) revealed abuse of vulnerable patients at Whorlton Hall, an independent hospital for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs/autism.  Whorlton Hall was was previously part of the Castlebeck Group (which also ran Winterbourne View) and the Danshell Group.  In 2017 it received aGood’ rating from its regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), despite previous complaints.

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Australian elderly care under scrutiny

A Royal Commission is currently underway in Australia to examine “Aged Care Quality and Safety”.  The Commission began in October 2018, and aims to complete a final report by April 2020.  It has wide reaching aims to examine the quality and safety for the elderly living in residential care as well as living at home.  This will include examining whether care is substandard, whether there are any systemic failures and how best to deliver care using technology, investment in the sector/workforce and innovative models of care.

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