Shears - Home Support & Relocation

Shears' News: 2011

Keep Warm, Stay Well in Hertfordshire [12th December 2011]

According to Herts County Council, "last year in Hertfordshire during the winter months 478 people died and many suffered ill health in what were the worst recorded winter weather conditions since 1910." As a result, funding has been made available by the Dept. of Health and families, friends and neighbours are encouraged to seek help for those who would benefit from, either financial support, energy checks or some practical advice on how to stay well. If you're in Hertfordshire, follow the HertsDirect link below. If you're not, why not check your council's website to see what they're doing in this area.

Prisoners have more protection than older people under the Human Rights Act [25th November 2011]

The result of the Equality and Human Rights Commission 'Close to home: older people and human rights in home care' enquiry, reported this month, (see interim findings in June's Shears News), following a year's robust research. While they cited some examples of good practice, once again they exposed the often poor treatment of vulnerable older people, this time in their own homes. Also alarming was the confirmation that where home care is provided by the private and voluntary sectors (currently 84%), "older people lack protection under the Human Rights Act". In calling for key recommendations around 'proper protection', 'effective monitoring' and 'clear guidance', Shears hopes that this research finally closes the loophole. For the full report, follow our link below:

Advice on dementia - how can we learn more about it? [3rd October 2011]

Working with the children of older people with dementia, I am often asked how they can find out more about it. Thankfully the Social Care Institute of Excellence (SCIE) - a charity working to improve the skills and knowledge of care workers - has produced a series of excellent videos on their Social Care TV Channel - which are short, simple yet informative. As such Shears recommends them to anyone wishing to learn more:

Half of hospitals and care homes fail to offer proper treatment [19th September 2011]

So says the Care Quality Commission - and reported in the Guardian by Denis Campbell, 15th September, providing further evidence, if it was needed that reform is required across the whole health and social care sector. Of particular concern is that many of the findings refer to the 'basics' of good care, in areas such as nutrition, welfare and safety. These shouldn't be rocket science and let's all hope that the upcoming and much debated Health and Social Care Bill will at last tackle the issues.

The demise of Southern Cross - are your loved ones affected? [31st August 2011]

After weeks of press speculation, Southern Cross, our largest care home operator of over 750 homes caring for 31,000 elderly and vulnerable residents announced that it could no longer afford to pay its rent bill and will soon close. In hindsight, we've seen the same situation with sale and leaseback operations in the hotel sector (London and Edinburgh / Swallow Hotels folded in 2007), but care homes are very different to hotels and residents different to guests. There will no doubt be a lot of soul-searching and processes put in place to make sure it doesn't happen again, but in the meantime, if your loved one is currently living in a Southern Cross home and you want to move them (a big upheaval), check the CQC website (follow the link below) for other local homes in your area or take professional advice.

It's a big year for Social Care legislation - Part 2 [28th July 2011]

The long-awaited Dilnot Report on the future funding of social care has been published and in summary recommends a range of measures to overhaul the current system - widely acknowledged as being out-of-date and not fit for purpose. Recommendations such as simplifying the system, making it more transparent, fair and portable as well as balancing responsibility between individual and state all appear laudable - but as ever the devil will be in the detail. The Kings Fund provides an excellent 4-page summary of the full report:

The poor state of 'residential' and 'home care' revealed [22nd June 2011]

June was a depressing month not only for those working hard to uphold standards in a challenged sector but also for everyone with vulnerable family members, whose care they have entrusted to professionals. At the start of the month we were greeted by the BBC's horrific portrayal of practices at Winterbourne View, a residential hospital in Bristol - thanks to Panorama. Later in the month, interim findings from research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (this time on the state of home care), concluded "home help for the elderly is now so poor that some people regularly get left in bed for 17 hours and others are at risk of malnutrition." If you're concerned about the care of your loved ones, we suggest you take advice on what to look out for and how to monitor services on an ongoing basis.

It's a big year for Social Care legislation - Part 1 [12th May 2011]

This month the Law Commission reported on their 3-year review of social care law. As expected, they concluded that current legislation is out-of-date, fragmented and confusing and also made a number of recommendations to improve it - which the Government will consider next year. Who knows which recommendations will be implemented, but the fact that they acknowledge the current system is in a mess and people are unclear of their rights is positive - so watch this space. To see their full report follow the link below:

Free social care paid for by the NHS [11th April 2011]

When a person has ongoing care needs which are 'primarily health' related, the NHS should pay for all the care required, including social / personal care. See our News last month for the difference. But very often Primary Care Trusts (who hold the budget for 'NHS Continuing Healthcare'), argue that people aren't eligible, as their needs are social, not health related. Without the facts and knowledge of their rights, families are not contesting these decisions and are therefore potentially losing out to the tune of thousands of pounds. The National Framework introduced in 2007 provides clear responsibilities and guidelines for the NHS and Shears urges families to spend time investigating them (eg. from the link below) or taking professional advice.

"Enablement" - the new buzz word in social care [7th March 2011]

While 'health' is managed and paid for by the NHS, 'social' or 'personal' care is managed by Local Authorities and is means-tested. Hence the problems when an older person who may have both health and personal care needs is discharged from hospital - the two services don't always work together. Also in the past the NHS has been criticised for discharging older people too early, when despite their clinical needs being met, they still have personal care needs - washing, dressing etc. So the Government's pledge of £70m to Local Authorities last October for 'enablement' care was good news. This is NHS funded 'enabling' personal care (i.e. helping an individual to do a task rather than doing it for them) for c. 6 weeks post discharge, to help them regain their confidence and skills. Furthermore, as of April 1st, the NHS will now have a legal responsibility for a person's care for up to 30 days post hospital discharge. We welcome this as it should help ease people back to independent living at home and prevent re-admissions.

Powers of Attorney [21st February 2011]

Many people will have suffered the frustration of dealing with a financial institution on behalf of someone else, particularly without the proper legal permission to do so. But we all have a role to play here. While institutions have a responsibility to their customers, we have a responsibility to look ahead and prepare for those times when our loved ones may not be able to make decisions for themselves, due perhaps to illness or disability. Making a Lasting Power of Attorney (a legal document allowing named attorneys to act on behalf of someone else) makes good sense, but it (rightly in our view, as it's a big step), takes time. Age UK provides some good background information for those interested in learning more:

It's official, self-funders get a raw deal. [20th January 2011]

This month Melanie Henwood, of Melanie Henwood Associates, produced her report on the plight of 'self-funders'. As Shears was interviewed as part of her research, we were not surprised to read the conclusions, aptly named 'Journeys without maps'. As she summarised in the Guardian, in many ways, people paying for themselves were considerably disadvantaged, relative to people qualifying for publicly funded support, by not having access to independent assessment of their needs (as opposed to their means), or to clear information about their options, and care advocacy to help them in achieving their preferences. We rest our case!

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