Hello, my name is Hali Grimstead and I am here today to discuss whether care homes ar safe for our elders. In the UK there are now 14.9 million people aged 60 and above. There are 11.4 million people aged 65 or over and 1.5 million people are aged 85 or over. By 2086, about one in three people in the UK will be over 60. The number of people over 85 is predicted to more than double in the next 20 years to nearly 3.5 million.
There are an estimated 5,153 nursing homes and 12,525 residential homes in the UK. There are 426,000 elderly people in residential care, approximately 405,000 of whom are aged 65+. 93% of nursing home residents and 99% of people in residential homes are aged 65+. And 16% of people aged 85+ in the UK live in care homes. Yet, the number of residential nurses in the UK is decreasing dramatically, which means that most of the elderly may resort to care homes.
Care homes say that they would provide a personal, familial atmosphere. Generally they’re located in traditional homes in residential neighbourhoods. Residents usually have their own rooms for sleeping, and share common recreation and dining areas. Some homes allow residents to bring along pets or allow couples to room together. But many have already shut down, and this looks like the future for many other homes. Although this is the impression that we get from most reasonable care homes, have these promises really been kept?
This story says otherwise. On one occasion when a woman was visiting her sister at her care home she found the Housekeeping supervisor sat in the television room playing the Wii. She goes on to say, she was about to help her sister into the shower when she discovered that there were no clean washcloths, and she had been told that they had used their allotted amount for the day, and so they could not have any clean washcloths until the next day. Wouldn’t the time of the Housekeeping supervisor been better spent washing laundry instead of playing on the Wii? Would you care if you had to lie in bed with no water, no attention, and no interaction for hours upon hours at a time?
At my grandmother’s care home, they never had enough staff to care for all their residents. My grandmother had a stroke years ago, and as a result, the whole left side of her body was paralyzed, which meant that she was not able to clean herself or feed herself. One day, my mother and I went to visit her, and the dinner staff had left her dinner on a tray on the bedside table, which we found quite bazar. They were very aware of my grandmother’s condition and that she was incapable of feeding herself, yet they did not think about this as, ‘they are too short of staff with too many residents!’! And her food was cold, so who knows how long it was there?
The company HC-One ran its own consultation with residents, relatives and staff to evaluate their views on a visible camera scheme. Here are the results: 68% of all respondents were in favour of introducing visible cameras in homes, 87% of relatives supported the use of cameras, 63% of staff supported the use of cameras, and 53% of residents opposed the use of cameras.
This shows that there were some concerns such as, privacy for Residents, who has access to the footage, who watches the footage, and where would the cameras be used in the home. But, could you blame them, would you like to be filmed 24/7 in your own home? This is why we need to consider whether care homes really are safe? If cameras were to be used Care homes would then be able to monitor their staff very well to catch problematic behaviour in time. Possibly preventing many from completely disappearing in the future. But can you trust them otherwise?