06 August 2018
Imagine you are the recipient of a home care service, a task orientated, home, care service. The visit to your home means that certain tasks, as detailed in your care plan, have to be done. Not to do them means a black mark against the care worker and the care provider. The care provision is the same each time.
In this situation the work gets done, but is this the care service that the majority of recipients want?
Surely home care should not just be about fulfilling practical needs. The evidence shows that increasingly older people are describing themselves as lonely. So, does a care worker coming in on a time clock to fulfill the specification of the care plan meet the social or emotional needs of an individual who may not see any other person that day or the next?
Our home care services are becoming so prescriptive that there is no time for conversation, no time to encourage and facilitate community activities (which could lead to less social isolation), to enable simple pleasures like a walk around a garden, to help arrange other activities that a person might need help with e.g. getting a tradesman in; choosing wallpaper; having a chat about last nights television or a book being read. These are all simple social activities able people take for granted.
Too many different care workers add to the feeling of not being seen as an individual but as someone who no-one needs to know. Relationships in any walk of life are necessary, give pleasure and re-assurance, but to have one you must get to know each other.
Social care as received by many older people is in restraint. It has become depersonalised and a thing to be endured. Care providers are controlled by local government specifications and national regulators. In state paid for care packages there is very little room for deviation on a care plan yet the mantra is that care should be person centered and consumer directed.
Private fee payers and individuals receiving direct payments have some flexibility, but the worry of any care provider is that when their care provision is audited an individual inspector may not view the flexibility in the same light.
Many care homes have been given negative marks by regulating inspectors but hidden within the reports are the messages that, when asked, relatives of the residents were happy with the service that was being received. Who should be the judge here?
Social care, not production line care, should be the aim of everyone involved in care provision. We just have to ask ourselves how we would like to be cared for if the needs arises.