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Good headlines aren't enough to improve care

Reports that the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, will send 'hit squads' into 500 care homes to root out neglect of the elderly (News, October 25) make good headlines but mean little in reality.

A total of 500 care homes means 20,000 residents, 150 hospitals equal 3-5,000 patients and 150 centres for people with learning difficulties equal several thousand residents.

It is claimed that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be able to 'demand complete closure of homes'. All fine in principle, yet the CQC has held these powers for many years.

Additionally, one would ask where these unfortunate residents are supposed to go if their current facilities are deemed to be of poor standard? Are there 'elite' care homes on standby to leap to the rescue? I think not.

Such headlines are not what is required, but rather a complete overhaul of the system: retraining of modern nurses to highlight the value of personal care; training of care assistants; introduction of hygienists/nutritionists; one-to-one ratios in provision of care; and increased funding.

Also required is: specialist clinical training for inspectors; insightful ombudsmen; professional visitors; fines for non-compliance with standards; reduction in size to turn mini-hospitals into care homes; encouragement of charities and volunteers to assist in care; meaningful programmes of care. These are but a few of the steps required to reverse declining standards of care. Finally, carers must be indoctrinated in the idea that everybody has a value.

JOHN ORR MA, MEd, RMN, RGN

Seaforde, Co Down

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