National study backed by Healthwatch Suffolk finds ‘worrying culture of apathy’ in care home sector

The report into adult social care has been published by Healthwatch England. Picture: Getty Images/i

The report into adult social care has been published by Healthwatch England. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Evidence from a Suffolk watchdog has contributed to a new national report, which has found too many care homes are ‘failing to get the basics right’.

Healthwatch England has drawn up a snapshot of the state of adult social care, compiling feedback from residents at 197 care homes in the country, including one in Halesworth.

Problems highlighted across the board around the country include dirty living conditions, a lack of appropriate adaptations such as hand rails and dementia-friendly signs, not enough activities for residents and concerns around staff numbers, training and turnover.

One resident said their clothes had been worn by other people, while another added call bells for assistance to go to the toilet could go unanswered for an hour.

Tony Rolo, chairman of Healthwatch Suffolk, has welcomed the publication, which concluded the care sector as a whole is in a “fragile state”.

He said: “Getting the basics right doesn’t have to cost the earth and is the least we should all be able to expect for our loved ones and ourselves should we need care support.

“Broadly, we agree with the themes identified by Healthwatch England in their analysis. We regularly challenge homes on things like activities provision, staff cover and how they can ensure their environment is appropriate to the needs of all residents.”

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He added: “It is our view that care homes are often task focused rather than person focused. A concern for us is the low level of activities offered to residents within the care home setting. Activities are hugely important to helping residents to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.

“It is vital that managers and care staff regularly speak with their residents to work out what’s going well and where they might need to improve. None of us would want someone dictating how we should live our lives in our own homes, so why should we expect care home residents to tolerate it?

“Care homes are not institutions, they are people’s homes, and the only way to make sure they feel like this for residents is to put them at the heart of shaping how the care home runs.”

The national investigation, which determined there is a “worrying culture of apathy” within care homes in England, has taken evidence from inspections carried out by local Healthwatch teams between January 2016 and April this year.

Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said the study was “yet another reminder of the stark reality of the funding crisis facing adult social care”.

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