Archive for February, 2013

More than 320,000 of the 400,000 people living in care homes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland now have dementia or severe memory problems, the Alzheimer’s Society charity estimates.

It said the figure was almost 30% higher than previous estimates because of the rise in the ageing population and improvements in data collection.

Of 2,000 adults surveyed, 70% said they would be scared about going to a home.

Another two-thirds felt the sector was not doing enough to tackle abuse.

And just 41% of 1,100 family members and carers surveyed thought their loved ones’ quality of life was good.

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “Society has such low expectation of care homes that people are settling for average.

“Throughout our lives we demand the best for ourselves and our children. Why do we expect less for our parents?

What is dementia?

  • Dementia is an umbrella term describing a serious deterioration in mental functions, such as memory, language,      orientation and judgement.
  • There are many types, but Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for two-thirds of cases, is the most well-known.

“We need government and care homes to work together to lift up expectations so people know they have the right to demand the best.”

David Rogers, of the Local Government Association, which represents councils, said: “This report shows the lack of confidence in a care system which is buckling under the weight of rapidly growing demand and years of underfunding.

“Local authorities want to offer a service which goes beyond a basic level of care but this is becoming increasingly difficult as our population ages, costs climb and the already significant funding shortfall becomes even more severe.”

Around one in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia in their lifetime.

It is estimated that there are around 800,000 people in the UK who have dementia, but many have not yet been diagnosed.

The number of people with dementia is increasing because people are living longer.

By 2021 the number of people in the UK with dementia will have risen to almost 950,000, experts believe.

The government is looking to improve dementia care by building greater awareness and understanding of the condition, as well as pumping more money into research to find new treatments and hopefully a cure.

In October 2012, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced dedicated funding of up to £50m to NHS trusts and local authorities to help tailor hospitals and care homes to the needs of people with dementia.

There are around 20,000 care homes in the UK.



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David Jones*, a residential child care worker, shares a dilemma he’s faced at work – how to protect an angry looked-after teenager in public

I’d been shopping in the city centre with a 15-year-old lad who’d become increasingly agitated after dropping and damaging his mobile phone on the way back to our car.

I told him we could go back into town and get it mended when he suddenly started swearing at passers-by. He refused to get into the car and shouted “paedophile” at me. Initially I ignored him, thinking he would stop, and explained how dangerous it could be if he used such a word in public.

Two men then approached me and asked what was going on. I explained I was a residential child care worker and showed them my identification, but they were clearly suspicious. “Anyone can make a false ID,” one of them said. His posture and tone of voice were threatening and he became verbally aggressive towards me. I felt extremely ill at ease. At this point the boy – who is very vulnerable to sexual exploitation – started to walk off.

I had to consider my own safety’

With or without the unwanted attention of two members of the public – whose concern I could, nevertheless, appreciate – I’m not allowed to physically stop a young person from walking or running off. What do I do? On previous occasions I’ve followed a young person and persuaded them to return with me – and attracted some very uncomfortable looks from people in the process – but this kid was continuing to shout abuse at me and I had to consider my own safety.

I actually surprised myself when I firmly told the two men that I really was a residential child care worker and that I had a duty of care to this kid. Whether the phrase “duty of care” surprised and registered with them, I don’t know. But they backed off and I went after the kid.

I lost him in the crowd though and returned to the car. I rang a colleague and told him what had happened. He said I’d done everything I could and should return to the home. In the meantime, he would check the kid’s risk assessment.

I knew it required a search of the home’s surrounding area – not relevant in this case – and phoning the boy’s mum, aunt and the parents of his best friend to let them know what had happened and to contact us if he came to them. And because of the kid’s high-risk status, we wouldn’t categorise him as an ‘unauthorized absence’ and give him the time to return before contacting the police, as detailed in his risk assessment.

‘There’s only so much we can do’

Instead, my colleague would report him missing to the police immediately, giving a description of what he was wearing, his height and build, and explain any allergies, drug usage, risk of sexual exploitation and whether he had any money on him. Careline would then be informed. An hour later, the boy returned safe and well to the home.

In regular supervision with a senior colleague, staff are reminded that there’s only so much we can do to protect a child in public when they want away. And also that we do have a duty of care to ourselves. Sometimes you can persuade a young person to return, and sometimes you can’t.

And even if you keep them in sight, whether on foot or in a people carrier, the kid will only double their efforts to lose you. And then of course there’s the possibility that a member of the public might request a word with you. You do your best.

*Name has been changed



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Care service passes quality inspection

A CARE service has welcomed a positive report from a Government watchdog.

Wetherby-based Home Instead Senior Care, which supports people in their homes in Wetherby and north Leeds, was judged as meeting all standards during an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Margaret Brennan, who owns and runs the Wetherby office, said: “We are pleased to have received the stamp of approval from the CQC after our latest inspection.

“Amidst reports in the media that care organisations are lacking in crucial areas of care, it is really important that people are able to access information about quality providers in their area to give them peace of mind.

“All CQC reports are available on their website and I would urge anyone looking for care to visit the site before deciding on a provider.

“We place our clients’ needs and wishes at the centre of everything we do and I was particularly pleased that people thought that our caregivers were very caring and would ‘go that extra mile’.”

She added: “At Home Instead we see these standards as a bare minimum.

“For us it is about the comments that clients and staff members make which evidences that we are at the forefront of the quality care sector.”

During the inspection, the CQC spoke to staff, clients and their relatives.

The report stated: “We saw systems were in place to regularly monitor the quality of the service.

“We also spoke with two relatives and one person who used the service and they were very complimentary about the service.”

One relative said: “I am so pleased with the service – they support my mum so well.”

Margaret added: “Unannounced inspections are an effective method of gauging the standard of a service.

“The essential standards span 16 areas from respect and involvement through to record keeping and staff support.

“At Home Instead we see these standards as a bare minimum, for us it is about the comments that clients and staff members make which evidences that we are at the forefront of the quality care sector.

A link to the full CQC report has been posted on the website www.homeinstead.co.uk/wetherby.



St Francis Hospice welcomes ‘five out of five’ from Care Quality Commission inspection

The unannounced visit, which saw an inspector checking records and speaking to staff, patients and relatives, happened at the end of January – and last week the hospice found it had passed all five “key standards of care”.

These are: the respect and involvement of patients; their care and welfare; safeguarding people from abuse; making sure there are enough staff; and managing risks.

Director of patient care Jane Sutherland said: “Our priority at St Francis Hospice is to deliver the best care and support to patients and their relatives, and I’m delighted the latest Care Quality Commission inspection demonstrates we are achieving this.

“The staff and volunteers deserve credit for the hard work they put in each day to ensure patients and families receive first-class care.”

Chief exec Pam Court said: “While it’s fantastic to receive such a positive report for our services, it was satisfying to learn about the wonderful comments made to the inspector by patients and their families.”

Patients said the service had met or exceeded their expectations, while relatives told the inspector “nothing was too much trouble” and said they were kept well informed.

To find out more about the hospice, visit http://www.sfh.org.uk or call 01708 753319. To read the inspection report, visit http://www.cqc.org.uk/directory/1-107318660.



Let’s raise our glasses to all those fabulous people who work really hard in the Health and Social Care Sectors.

I would like to hear your stories on all the GOOD things that the NHS and/or the Social Care system have done for you or someone you know.

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Liverpool Care Pathway

If you want to give your thoughts on the use of the LCP you can email them directly to liverpoolcarepathwayreview@dh.gsi.gov.uk

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Parents of Down’s syndrome woman, 21, can NOT have her sterilised, rules judge

  • 21-year-old described as ‘tactile and ‘affectionate’
  • Parents feared she could easily fall pregnant
  • Judge said other forms of contraception should be considered

The parents of an ‘affectionate’ 21-year-old woman with Down’s syndrome have been forbidden from having her sterilised despite their concerns she could fall pregnant.

In a landmark ruling at the Court of Protection in London, Mr Justice Cobb concluded that such a procedure would be ‘disproportionate’.

He said the case engaged important human rights considerations and that the woman, referred to as K, lacked the capacity to understand and weigh up the options for herself.

The parents feared their daughter, who does not have a boyfriend and had expressed no interest in having one, could easily be taken advantage of.

But Mr Justice Cobb said there were less restrictive methods of ‘achieving the purpose of contraception’ which should be tried first.

He added it was in the woman’s best interests that he should ‘bring as much clarity to medical treatment issues’ as he could.

He wrote in a statement: ‘The issue which divides the parties is whether I should declare in these proceedings at this stage that it is not in the woman’s best interests to be the subject of a sterilisation procedure’.

‘No-one can doubt the seriousness and significance of a sterilisation procedure. Further surgery would be required to reverse it, and then only with a moderate prospect of success.’

Mr Justice Cobb said the woman was part of a ‘loving’ and ‘supportive’ family and said he had read ‘nothing but praise’ for her parents.

The parents, referred to in court as Mr and Mrs K, had gone to see a specialist who had originally supported the idea of sterilisation but a second expert had suggested other forms of contraception.

The judge added: ‘Although Mr and Mrs K expressed concerns that K is occasionally ‘tactile’ and ‘overfamiliar’, that she has begun to be more aware of the ‘opposite sex’, and is vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

‘I note that K is well-supervised at home and at college; there is no evidence she is seeking a sexual relationship.’

The judge said the local authority had begun proceedings in the Court of Protection, which is part of the High Court and analyses issues surrounding the care and treatment of sick and vulnerable people.

He said he had made a declaration under the provisions of mental capacity legislation after the woman’s parents disagreed with a local authority – and medics – about the best way ‘to achieve contraception’.

He added: ‘I have sought to achieve the right balance between protection and empowerment.

‘It is my judgment that sterilisation would be a disproportionate (and not the least restrictive step) to achieve contraception for the woman in the future.’

The judge said risk management was ‘plainly’ better than invasive treatment and less restrictive.

Mr Justice Cobb added: ‘It is in the woman’s best interests that I should make this declaration now; I do not believe that it is in her best interests that this issue should be left unresolved.’

And the judge said the woman’s parents had concerns about how pregnancy would affect their daughter.

‘Have become increasingly concerned that as K becomes older their ability to control and supervise aspects of her life will be reduced,’ he added.

‘Were she to become pregnant at any time in the future they believe this would have a seriously adverse effect upon her.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2279562/Parents-Downs-syndrome-woman-forbidden-having-sterilised-despite-fears-taken-advantage-of.html#ixzz2L4QtiRH3
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Bonka Kostova was on a night shift when she physically and verbally abused a 73-year-old – denying him his dignity and screaming that he was “like an animal”.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council found proved the allegations against her, ruling her fitness to practice was impaired and today striking her off the register.

The professional body have absolutely no power to prevent the Bulgarian working as a carer. However, she was today suspended from her job while bosses investigate her conduct.

She did not attend the central London hearing, but in an email said: “’I don’t want to practice as a midwife, I am quite happy to work as a carer only.”

She is the first person before misconduct panel since the damning Francis Report was released which exposing catastrophic standards of care at the trust, leading to at least 1,200 needless deaths


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Short breaks are a vital service for families caring for people with a learning disability, but too many are still not accessing this, and it is pushing some to breaking point, says Mencap’s Dan Scorer:

Too many families caring for people with a learning disability are at breaking point because they are not getting the short breaks support they so desperately need. When we talk about short breaks, we’re not referring to a long weekend away, but to the time off from caring that families greatly need, sometimes for as little as one evening a month.

For many, caring for a loved one is part of the fabric of their lives, but without the right support the personal cost of caring can be high. Mencap’s Short Breaks report, launched today, reveals just how high these personal costs can be.

An overwhelming 8 in 10 family carers told Mencap that they have reached or felt close to reaching a point of crisis because they don’t get enough short breaks. Shockingly, 3 in 10 carers we surveyed had never even had a short break. Without the lifeline of temporary outside care for their loved one with a learning disability, the physical and mental health of family carers is being put on the line.

The Government has recognised the demand for high quality, safe short breaks for people with a learning disability and their families, with a recent investment of £1.2 billion. But our report found that this money is not actually being spent on the services that families desperately need. In fact, at the same time as demand for short breaks is on the rise, many councils across England have closed short breaks services or cut spending on them.

If these cuts to short breaks services continue, family carers could be left unable to carry on, with devastating impacts on them and the loved ones they care for. This short breaks crisis could also leave the state footing a huge bill, with family carers at breaking point putting greater demand on health, welfare and social care services.

The availability of short breaks has been at a critically poor level over the past decade, with no real improvement since Mencap launched its Breaking Point campaign in 2003. At the present rate, a bad situation is in danger of getting far worse, unless the government takes urgent action.

They need to show support for families by ring-fencing the money for short breaks, so that it is actually spent on improving these services. Councils must also intervene early so that no family carer is left to reach a crisis point due to a lack of short breaks.

We must act now to make sure that every family carer who needs a break gets a break.

Dan Scorer is senior campaigns and policy manager at Mencap


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