Local Authority care cuts effect “best interests” of elderly residents, says Lib Dem MP

The past six months have seen radical cuts to care budgets throughout the UK.

The ‘squeeze’ of financial restraints imposed on local authorities have been felt up and down the country throughout the majority of public sector services; but today a Coalition spokesman has admitted that elderly people are suffering because of hundreds of millions of pounds being cut from nursing and care home budgets.

In conversation with The Telegraph, Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat MP and care services minister, posed questions as to why councils continue to fail to pass on £2 billion of Government budget allocated to support vulnerable and disabled adults.

The Telegraph have today quoted Mr Burstow of accusing dozens of authorities of “clearly” failing to act “in the best interests” of their residents.

A number of councils are expected to be targeted with interventions to ensure that they “improve productivity” without sacrificing key services, he said.

The minister’s comments are being held as the first from a government spokesman to acknowledge the scale of the funding crisis and to accept that the money promised by the Chancellor last year has not reached the ‘front line’ of care services.

Mr Burstow told The Telegraph that government reports indicate that councils in the UK have had to cut £200 million from their spending on social care in cash terms over the past 12 months. However, the minister has previously said that councillors have “no excuse” for cutting budgets for services such as care homes and helpers who assist with daily tasks.

The charity-based organisation Age UK has warned that if the cuts continue and Local Authorities fail to develop the way they deliver care services, frail and elderly people will be at serious risk of being without the basic vital support they need.

Plans for a 2012 White Paper have been lodged as part of the Coalition’s defence and reformation of public services, and cross-party talks have been promised in an attempt to reach a consensus on the future of funding for elderly care.

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Quality Assurance for Care Homes: What is it? Why do we need it?

Quality, they say, is the mark of getting something right each and every time – the first time around. And, it is also fair to say, most of us involved in care will agree that using a residential care home service can be a daunting ‘first time’ experience for anyone. Hence the importance of Quality Assurance within any care service.

But what actually is Quality Assurance?

Well, to put it simply, Quality Assurance is the portfolio of shortcomings and successes for running a care service over a given period of time.

For example, in terms of residential care, these successes can be marked out by the Care Quality Commission’s essential standards regulations. Therefore a way of delivering a Quality Assurance portfolio would be to address each standard regulation and exhibit the care service’s capability of regulating and meeting that standard. This could be done Outcome by Outcome or, instead, in service areas such as Environment, Risk Management, Infection Control etc.

Many care homes choose to provide their Quality Assurance portfolio in these terms, and it certainly is an effective way of regulating the quality procedures of a service and delivering a quality guarantee.

But what is a quality guarantee, I hear you ask? Some services choose to deliver a guarantee with their service, such as: Our aim is to deliver a safe, personalised service designed to help promote independence and continued quality of life. Such a guarantee expresses the goals of the service as a whole; then, what follows, will be to explore and exhibit how this guarantee is currently being delivered and how the service will seek any improvements. And this, in a nutshell, is the purpose of a Quality Assurance portfolio.

Why do we need Quality Assurance?

The basic principle of a Quality Assurance portfolio is that it allows those interested to see in plain black and white, in facts and figures, in qualitative and quantitative, the core aspects to that service. By exhibiting both the successes as well as the shortcomings of the care service, the onlooker is being shown how the service is currently being managed and maintained, and how it will seek improvements for the areas it has highlighted in the oncoming future.

In layman’s terms, what a good Quality Assurance portfolio gives us is honesty. We are able ‘to see with our own eyes’ the functionability of the service. And this, whether you are a care service inspector or a caring son and daughter, will provide the added security of knowing that your service is from a care you can trust.

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Care Homes and Independent Living: Health of the Elderly and Physical Activity

In this ever changing era of technological advances and innovative health provisions, where does the traditional residential care home sector fit in? Like other supporting living facilities such as sheltered housing, home care and extra care villages, residential care homes are finding cause to modernise.

With digitalised care planning tools, interfacing technology and virtual social networking for just your average residential service user, care homes really do appear to be at the forefront of their field. However, a recent report suggests that good old fashion domestic chores could in fact be the new way forward.

In a report published earlier this year, the benefits of domestic engagement and physical activity for elderly people within their care setting are said to be paramount. Domestic chores and physical activities that take place within a communal setting are directly related to positive mental health and well-being.

As more and more care home staff use care packages to appropriately risk assess residents, service users are supported side-by-side with carers to carry out chores and domestic duties that have long-loved memories and other associations linked to the activities themselves.

Not only are there stimulation and motivation aspects to having a more inclusive care home service, but the cerebral and physical stimulation can also support and enhance day-to-day concerns such as balance by strengthening muscles, motor capabilities and co-ordination, and therefore minimising potential risk of falls.

Gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, have also become a huge hit within the sector as people with particular physical frailties are given access to a range of physical activities that meet their personal levels of engagement.

At Angel Healthcare our staff are trained and encouraged to support all our residents to keep up those long loved hobbies, those important daily duties and that authentic feeling of home in an environment that is safe, sensitive and supporting. Take a look at our website to find out more.

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New Study Reveals Local Authority’s Affect On Care Homes

Research published by the University of East Anglia at the end of last year revealed news that local authorities may be driving up the cost of residential care home fees for privately funded service users.

Arriving alongside the recent VAT increase, the news that local authorities could also be to blame for increasing the cost of care home fees was revealed in a research paper published by the ESRC Centre for Competition Policy.

Professor Ruth Hancock and Professor Morten Hviid have outlined that due to the ongoing public sector funding and budget cuts, Adult Social Services have been forced to trim band funding and make every penny go that extra mile. This, of course, has had an effect on the Health and Social Care economy where more and more independent care home providers are having to counter balance the reduction in funding by raising private fees. This is what Prof Hviid has to say:

“Local authorities purchase care home places on behalf of a large group of people based on a means test of their income and capital assets. People excluded by the means test are self-funding. The more the price is increased for a privately funded place, the more buyers will drop out of the private market as less people cant afford the higher price,”

said Prof Hviid, professor of law at the University of East Anglia

“An important lesson from the care home market is that where the public sector purchases alongside private buyers, urging the public sector to its buying power may lead to unintended consequences for the price that private purchasers pay,” added Prof Hviid.

“Under the current means tests for residential care, local authorities can use their buyer power without destabilising the care home market too much. But if the system is reformed so that more people are entitled to some public support with their care home fees, local authorities may have to pay fees which are closer to the market rate. That will cost them more. The Dilnot Commission – which is considering reforms to the care funding system – needs to recognise this,” said Prof Hancock, professor of Economics of Health and Wealthfare at UEA.

Although it is unclear what the new government has in store for the UK’s Health and Social Care sector, economists are predicting a shift in the oncoming years.

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Remember, Remember Our 5th Of November

Not so much a night of Gunpowder, Treason and Plot but a great night for Camcorders and Fireworks in Eyeshot. Abbey House’s Guy Fawkes was a roaring success thanks to all our family and friends who came along and a special thanks to Pamela Mayeurs and our residents for letting us join in with the festivities.

Home Manager, Pamela Mayeurs, turned Abbey House into the best-seat-of-the-house for its lucky residents, and a few familiar faces from Wilton Lodge, for this year’s bonfire night.

Whilst friends and family took to their seats, Pamela and her band of merry helpers served halloween style “finger” food!!!

Even our homemade Guys from Wilton, Arden and Abbey House had an explosive time!

Again, a big Thank You to everyone who came and made our 5th of November one to remember!

Angel Healthcare Team

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A Winter Warmer with Angel Healthcare

Celebrations To Be Had By All!

Some Carpet Bowling Fun!... STRIKE!

Now that British Summer time has officially ended and the UK has begun making its way towards those darker nights and, much more excitingly, those memorable lamp light evening’s spent indoors, care homes in East Sussex will no doubt all be asking the same question this winter… When would you like to visit?

Yes, there’s nothing nicer than expecting a home visit when the weather outside is frightful. And we all know that there’s not much better than an evening with good company. So, let’s put the shoe on the other foot, have you thought about spending an evening or two with your loved ones at their care home?

Our residential care homes are cordially inviting the friends and familiy of each of our residents to plan an evening at our place. Whether it be Abbey, Arden, Glenmuir or Wilton, call our Head Office on 0870 89 89 89 8 where we can help cater for any arrangements to make your evening one to remember, and a night you can be sure your loved one will never forget!

Not only will an evening at our place give you a great night to look forward to sharing but it will also give our staff and our other residents – who play such a big part in your loved one’s daily routines – an opportunity to get to know who you are, hear unheard stories about each of our residents, and talk about the night you spent together for months to come.

Just like the writer Christian Morgenstern said “Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.”

We hope to hear from you soon and look forward to some very warm winter nights.

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Festive Fireworks and a Happy Halloween

It’s that time of year again. The sun is setting earlier, the weather’s got that bit chillier, but that wont stop or hamper the festive cheer we’ve got down at each of the Angel Healthcare homes.

We’ve decorated our homes with festive ghosts and ghouls for this year’s Halloween celebrations and would like to remind all family members and friends to pop in for a trick or treat! We’d love to see some of your scariest costumes!

The residents at Wilton Lodge, Abbey, Glenmuir and Arden House have all started their Guy Fawkes celebrations. Each of the homes have set about creating a traditional Guy fit for the twenty-first century.

Our residents are making their Guys from recycled materials to be donated to a local school bonfire procession. And here at the head office we will be meeting their festive and environmentally-friendly efforts by ‘off-setting’ the carbon emissions released by burning the Guys. We hope on bonfire night that we can show the next generation that the bright fireworks and traditional celebrations of tomorrow can be one we’ll continue to enjoy for years to come.

We’re also hosting our own FireWorks night at Abbey House. So, if you’d like to join in the festivities, please do contact us as soon as possible so we can cater for your arrangements.

Wishing you all a Happy Halloween and an explosive Bonfire Night!

The Angel Healthcare Team.

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CQC ‘Hotel Rating System’ To Replace Old Star Ratings

Recommended by the Registered Nursing Home Association CEO, Frank Ursel; prompted by healthcare spokesmen up and down the country; and under the general scrutiny of the care sector as a whole – But have we really seen the end of the Quality Star Rating system?

At present, it is still quite hard to tell. However, with reformed CQC regulations coming to life this coming October, there does seem to be a professional preoccupation with the need to establish a concrete method for assessing the overall quality of care services received from the perspective of the individual who is using the service.

Sound complicated? Well, it shouldn’t be. The Commission’s aim for the regulatory shift in October has been rumoured to ‘do away’ with the Quality Star Rating system in place at present and move into a clearer and coherent model.

Frank Ursell, CEO for Registered Nursing Home Association, in an interview with Caring UK, suggested that even an extension of the current system in place would be an improvement for effectively monitoring quality ratings:

‘We believe that a five-star system would be better than a three star system, partly because it would more appropriately reflect the different levels of quality achieved by care homes and partly because most people are familiar with the system of awarding between one and five stars to hotels.’

Mr Ursell continued his discussion by lending support to another Star Rating’s accessory – the emergent CQC Quality Profiles. Mr Ursell and many others involved in the profession suggest that the Quality Profiles are an effective means for care providers to gather information from a range of sources that will represent their care service most accurately. Such a ratings tool might even allow the service providers, as well as the inspectorate, to take a cross-section of a service location to monitor areas for improvement.

Unfortunately, for those working ‘on the ground’ of the care sector, there seems to be another period of wait-and-see until an outcome has been reached for whether Star Ratings will be scrapped. Nonetheless, one thing we can be certain of in the oncoming future is that the changes will be for the benefits of all its service-users. And this, we can all agree, is an outcome worth working towards.

Source: Caring UK

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NHS White Paper – What It Is, and What It Means To You

Its title, Equality and excellence: Liberating the NHS, leaves little for the general consuming public to question – but how has July’s White Paper affected residential care for its users?

Well, in general terms, the reform movements made by government look to benefit all those who currently use care services (as well as those seeking services in the future) by focusing on the way people experience such services as individuals with their own specific personal requirements.

This aim – rather simply put – will be threefold: to meet needs, fulfil requirements and promote personal benefits via the care services delivered to its user. In residential care, overseen by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), this goal will be evidenced to all concerned parties by understanding and regulating the significance of one word: outcomes.

And what do we mean by ‘outcomes’? As somebody looking to use residential care services for yourself or on behalf of your loved ones, your own definition of ‘outcomes’ will be – perhaps unbeknownst to yourself – highly accurate.

After all, what most of us truly want for those using care services is a continuation of supported physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. And the outcomes regulated by CQC and delivered by care providers will work through and alongside care service-users to help establish these best interests, and to actively exhibit this very same quality of life.

So, to understand the NHS White Paper is to understand that this is the piece of government documentation, working alongside governmental bodies such as CQC, that will change the ‘shape’ of residential care so that whether or not you are a care service inspector, a care service provider or a care service user, each and all of us will be looking towards the benefits of the care service itself, and the positive outcomes it produces for its user.

What we can expect to see in the oncoming future is a new level of transparency throughout the care service sector as a whole; where an overlapping and interconnected system is made simple through ongoing good work to achieve a care service you can trust.

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Wii keeps Angel Healthcare residents active

Residents of Angel Healthcare care homes have been keeping physically and mentally active thanks to a new games console.

Four Nintendo Wii‘s have been set up at each of the East Sussex provider’s homes, where residents have been able to take full advantage of a range of virtual technology games, simulated sports and brain training puzzles.

“The residents just love to join in with a game on the Wii. Whether it’s karaoke, bowling, or a game of virtual cards, when the whether isn’t so welcoming outside, we’ve had our own fun in the front lounge” says Debbie Whatley, Manager of Arden House. “Plus, it’s another activity where our staff and residents can really bond together, and have a good time.”

Not only are there good times to be had but the Nintendo Wii is also a great way for increasing motivation and social interaction, maintaining hand-eye coordination as well as adding to that all important sense of community sharded throughout each home.

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