What ITV doesn't know about care homes? "Care homes: The Long Year Alone."
Following the ITV broadcast "Care homes: The Long Year Alone." on 21st Jan 2021, managers and the people working in care homes have felt so angry for such a one-sided media reporting. It is not uncommon to release such a broadcast to get more viewers, thereby getting big multinational companies to advertise with the broadcaster. Media is also a profit-making business.
Here I am trying to demystify the common misconceptions about care homes. (Of course, these misconceptions were created by the media in the first place).
Care homes are 'secret' places
Care homes are people's home. They do not let any 'strangers' into their home unless there is a purpose. There were no restrictions in visiting care homes pre-covid by relatives and friends. If none of your relatives is in a care home, the only information you have about care homes is from the media and what you find online. Most of the desktop 'experts' share and like whenever they see something negative. There are regulations around care homes to be open and transparent about the untoward incidents happening in care homes. If it is not followed, the regulators will put a clamp on their operation anyway. In summary, care homes are not 'secret' places for the people involved in it.
Care homes 'drug' people
Care homes cannot buy sedating drugs from 'black market' and drug their residents. Their GPs prescribe any medicines administered to their residents. GP's are qualified professionals who are registered with GMC, who follows their professional code of conduct. None of the GP's risk their license to sedate someone unethically. Any sedatives which are prescribed as only a last resort when the non-pharmacological methods don't work. These are usually monitored by the local CCG. If CQC has identified an excessive use of antipsychotics, they will usually publish it on their public report. The point is care homes cannot drug people!
People get abused in care homes
Mainstream media is very good in spreading 'abuse' stories about care homes than the 'Good' ones. Interestingly no one is willing to publish 'good' news series for care homes either, because it will not sell well. Yes, abuses happen in care homes, which is unacceptable and should be punished most appropriately. But unfortunately, the system allows 'abuse' to be identified only after it has happened; authorities are not interested in pre-warning signs. Majority of the people work in care homes to provide excellent care. You will be surprised at how much the clients are abusing them due to their mental health difficulties. The staff in care homes get kicked, racially abused, people throw things at them, use foul words, of course, due to the client's lack of capacity. But they never complain, they will still turn up with a beautiful smile to support that client again. The immediate relative may understand what these carers are going through, and they are usually very grateful for their services. But the so-called desktop experts never understand this.
Care homeowners are there to make money
It would be interesting to see if we can have an NHS model care homes for vulnerable people, it will fail like anything. Hence, the sector was privatised years ago. Buying a care home is not for anyone; you will get it right only if you care about your residents. Most of the care home owners are operators. Their life is more affected by the care homes than the pleasure of being an 'owner' of a care home. Recently one care home operator put an end to his life, due to the stress of operating a care home during the pandemic. Yes, they do make money, but it is the reward for their hard work. Those people who criticise do not understand how difficult it is to operate a care home.
Being a care home manager is an easy job
When you walk into a care home, you usually come across these well dressed always smiling type of thing called 'care home managers'. While smiling at you, their mind is going through the problems of their staff and their residents. It is one of the worst jobs to have in this pandemic because they become the scapegoats for policymakers' decisions. Being a care home manager is non-stop work. You get calls when you are enjoying supper with your family, watching a movie or spending a day-off trying to relax. Many managers quit their jobs from the sector during the pandemic. Most managers are at the brink of a breakdown with the stress and overloaded responsibilities. Be kind to them! We need good managers to stay in the sector as there is already a shortage of Managers in the country.
Yes, there are poorly operated care homes. They should not be allowed to operate. CQC is usually quick on shutting such care homes unless they improve. But there are way more great care homes than the bad ones. These care home do work hard to get their care right. Watching such a biased story from ITV is a massive injustice to 1 million-plus great care workers in this country. Please get it right next time!
This article is dedicated to all my colleagues working in the care home sector!
Written by a care home addict Issac Theophilos.
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