Care homes were in the news last week after publication of a hard-hitting report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – the Government’s health and social care watchdog – which reviewed the state of adult care services over the past three years.
The CQC said much more needs to be done to raise the quality of care at many homes across the country after around one in four of them were found to be unsafe.
Fortunately, Doncaster is performing better than huge swathes of the rest of the country. We have the fewest number of care homes that have either been rated inadequate or requiring improvement across the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber.
But that’s no reason to be complacent, we intend to keep improving the care that’s provided for elderly and vulnerable people in Doncaster. There are 50 care homes in the borough, which have over 1,900 beds and nearly 1,600 residents at any one time.
Historically, Doncaster people have gone to live in care homes at a much younger age than the average for the rest of the country. This is a trend we want to reverse by supporting people better in their own homes.
NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group is working closely with colleagues at Doncaster Council to roll out a new care home strategy for Doncaster. It sets out to support people to live independently for as long as possible, but if they have to go into a care home then the care they receive should be based on individual needs.
We’re trying to reduce the number of care home residents who are taken to hospital in an emergency. Last year, more than 2,500 went to A&E – an increase of six per cent on the previous year. Nearly 50 per cent of those people were admitted to hospital , but 30 per cent of them were discharged within a day of admission.
Going forward, local GPs and community staff will play a key role in helping people in care homes to stay out of hospital by monitoring their health and taking action to avoid an emergency hospital admission if it starts to deteriorate. Another key element of the plan for Doncaster is to train and develop the people needed to work in care homes, equipping them with the required skills. This includes providing enhanced education opportunities for registered nurses in the homes.
A further development will be the opportunity for carers to train to become qualified nurses.
Care homes provide a valuable role in supporting both people and the NHS, with a lot of quality healthcare being provided by social care staff in those homes. By working together better across health and social care boundaries we can hopefully provide the high quality care that elderly and vulnerable people deserve.