“40% of Care homes are not fit for purpose”
screams the front page of the Daily Mail on August 7th 2017
No news there then. In fact I am surprised the figure is so low. Most care homes are not fit for purpose and never have been. Few people move into them voluntarily. Most go there because there is nowhere else to go —– or because they are put there by relatives who can no longer cope.
Care Homes for the elderly have never been ‘homes’, they are warehouses for older people. From the 1980’s they ceased to be operated by well-meaning carers and became money-making machines for home owners and later, venture capital investors.
Initially this private sector market was welcomed by Central Government as a way of coping with growing numbers of frail older people, without having to provide public capital for Local Authorities or Housing Associations. Only when excessive profits were being made did they start to regulate the poor standards of care being provided. Better space requirements, single rooms and en suite toilets were belatedly introduced. Training standards for care staff were demanded but not effectively delivered, because levels of pay stayed low and staff turnover was high. Now forty years on the Government has proposed to improve wages, but risks reducing profit margins to a level which will make homes less attractive to investors.
These latest headlines in the Daily Mail are commenting on the fact that more and more Care Homes are failing to meet even basic standards of care. The RSPCA looks after dogs better than we look after many older people in care.
Residential Care Homes were a policy that was never wanted by older people, but it has taken successive Governments of all political persuasions forty years to realise that this is a
DEAD END !
Now the big question is what are they going to do about it ?
- The immediate answer is NOTHING.
- The reality is that Care Homes can’t be closed because there is no alternative in the short-term.
- The ever-increasing number of frail older people makes it unlikely even in the next decade or more.
- One radical approach might be to NATIONALISE THEM.
- Default on the unreasonable loan debts, prosecute the failing home owners and transfer the homes to a new SOCIAL CARE CORPORATION.
- You could then introduce staff training programmes with formal qualifications linked to significantly increased pay.
- The higher revenue costs could be financed by requiring residents who can afford it, to pay higher fees from the sale of their houses.
All of these ideas have been discussed over the years but none of them have been taken up. Because of politicians lack of honesty, older people and their relatives have been led to believe that either social care is free if they have limited resources, or at least they can keep their own homes if they are a home owner. This has been “an elephant in the room” for decades, but there will be no solution without addressing this issue.