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Care homes struggling, report warns

Care homes for the elderly are struggling to meet the needs of residents with complex medical conditions amid cuts in funding, a report has warned.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) report says elderly people are being admitted to care homes with increasingly severe and complex care needs, having previously been treated in acute hospitals.

The survey of 600 care home nurses found more than a quarter (26%) felt they did not have adequate equipment and medical supplies, while nearly four in 10 (38%) said there were not enough full-time registered nurses employed to provide suitable care. Almost half of nurses (48%) said residents were being accepted in a bid to fill vacant places despite concerns about levels of care.

RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: "This report paints a hugely concerning picture about the many daily challenges that so many nurses in care homes face in delivering high quality care.

"Many of these challenges are not new, but following years of underinvestment these issues have now significantly worsened. When nearly two in five nurses say there are not enough nurses to meet the needs of residents, then you know that this is a worrying state of affairs. Even nurses who were positive about the quality of care felt it was delivered despite significant challenges."

The RCN report - entitled Persistent Challenges To Providing Quality Care - also raised concerns about dwindling morale among care home staff, with carers often paid the minimum wage.

The union has recommended a re-evaluation of how funding is allocated to care homes, as well as the introduction of national guidance on staffing levels. It has also called for a Government review of workforce planning in care homes and for regulation of all healthcare assistants.

Care services minister Paul Burstow admitted changes were needed to the social care system, with the Government's White Paper on social care expected this spring.

Mr Burstow said: "We agree the social care system needs to change. We're making the system more joined up with health and focusing on helping people maintain their independence for as long as possible. We will be publishing our plans for overhauling the system this spring.

"We are investing more money in social care. At the spending review, we committed an extra £7.2 billion over four years to support social care. The White Paper will bring clarity to what quality care in social care looks like. It will seek to empower everyone involved in social care to play their part in ensuring high quality care for all."


From Belfast Telegraph