A rose by any other name


Posted on October 27th, by geoff in CT blog. 6 comments

By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson

Former care minister Paul Burstow, via the Demos report, wants us to drop the ‘care home’ tag and call our facilities ‘housing with care”. This, he says, will be a “bold first step” in reversing the impairment to the sector’s reputation.

The Demos report contains many laudable aspirations but I think this proposed relabelling of care homes is a bit of a donkey. It is already being tried, with quite a few providers referring to their new builds as “care centres” or “communities”. Some have gone for “care hotel”.

I think “care home” is better, certainly preferable to “housing with care” which for me, conjures up an image of an institutional silo, much more so than “care home”.  Most of us live in homes and are very happy in them – “home” conveys a sense of belonging. The poet Robert Frost said “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”

Admittedly, with language, context is everything and “owning your own home” has cosier overtones than “putting your mum in a home”. And of course changing the label on the tin won’t do much unless the contents are improved.

Care homes must work to be a recognised, accepted and celebrated part of the community in which they are situated. Most communities have a local pub, and those pubs need to be a part of the community to survive. If a pub is referred to by its name, say the “Royal Oak” rather than just “the pub down the road” then it has to some measure succeeded. Care homes must work just as hard for that sort of recognition – I’d rather put my Mum in a place I knew as “The Laurels” rather than in housing with care, a care hotel or community, even if The Laurels had the words “care home” on its registration certificate.

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6 responses to “A rose by any other name”

  1. Bob DelaneyMore nonsense. says:

    More nonsense . Typical political deception. If there’s a problem lets change the name and everyone will be happy. In reality nothing would change but for a brief period a new age would be perceived to be dawning wherein all the faults of the past have miraculously disappeared . CQC sound familiar? Far easier than actually trying to encourage ,support and promote the qualities of Care Homes or ,for that matter take positive action to rid the sector of poor quality homes and operators.

    Lets just change the name and “Bingo” all the “problems” of the past will be blown away.

    There is nothing wrong with being a”Care Home”. The two words embody the whole ethos of the undertaking . There is no deceit in such a title. Like the the paint ” it does what it says on the tin”. The frail elderly want care and a home . The good ones amongst us provide that and more.

    There is nothing wrong with the name. It’s open and honest and would be more so if Government took more time to recognise the value and quality within the sector.

  2. Tony Stein says:

    Geoff,
    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that changing the description of care homes does nothing in and of itself. I’m not sure that I agree with the comment that ‘changing the label won’t do much unless the contents are improved’. To me this suggests that the ‘contents’ are not currently of the right quality. Those of us that work with, and in, care homes would be confident in saying that for the greater part, care homes already offer excellent, compassionate and safe care and accommodation for service users.
    The issue that Paul Burstow is trying to address however is one of spin – something that, as a politician, he should know a lot about. The question is how do we change the public perception after years of media propaganda pushing the view that care homes = abuse. As a sector we’ve demonstrated that we have no idea how to effectively challenge this distorted view – maybe we do need to listen to the politicians. This may not be the best idea ever, but if anyone can spin us back into the public’s good books it’s going to be someone from the Westminster village…

  3. Bob Ferguson says:

    To be fair, the Demos report contains much food for thought; however, another of its (many) recommendations – about embedding older people’s housing within the community – sounded a note of caution for me. Back in the mid 1960s a massive new public housing scheme was built in a London borough – as luck would have it, the very one that Paul Burstow represents in Parliament, although he would still have been in his pram at the time. A laudable desire to avoid the creation of older people’s ghettos (albeit an expression that had yet to be invented) prompted the architects to integrate accommodation for older people – flats, bedsits and a care home – at the heart of the community.

    Grannies and granddads everywhere will recognise that although youngsters are a pleasure to be about, it is also something of a relief to bid them farewell. The old folk in this scheme didn’t have that opportunity. In fact, many of them spent much of their time on the phone to the warden or the local police trying to get some peace and quiet from what they regarded as a horde of feral youth.

    It’s called the downside of a good idea.

    It seems to me that planners – and this applies equally to policy makers – have a propensity to design primarily to make them feel good about themselves rather than improving the lot of the people. As this report also recommends, plans “should start with what people want and value, without presupposing a location in which this should be delivered.” Now, when more housing is desperately needed and new garden cities are being contemplated, planners should take care to learn from the lessons of the recent past.

    • Tony Stein says:

      Bob,
      Amen to that.
      I have grown weary over the years of hearing the views of those not needing care expressed as if they were unquestionably the views of those who do.
      A case in point. Some care home residents want to live in the country with views of rolling hills and fields, cows, peace and tranquility reigning. I know, because she tells me often!, that my mother is filled with horror at the prospect of , almost literally, being ‘put out to pasture’. She want to live in the heart of a busy and bustling community, still feeling that she’s one of the community and not unworthy of inclusion.
      The current flood of papers, organisations, books on what good dementia care looks like fills me with great concern. Surely there are almost as many ways of caring for someone with dementia as there are people with the condition…?
      I completely agree that we should designing services around what we think users need and instead deliver what they actually want.

  4. Pauline Hardinges says:

    People with complex needs ( care by more than one discipline ) who are in need of professional nursing care, do not want to be in hospital if this can be avoided but would be unable to be looked after at home as a result of their needs, really need a home with round the clock nursing care where they can feel secure. The same applies to people unfortunate enough to have a dementia, in the latter stage they need to feel safe. With professional nursing care, not just social care. There is a lot more than just social needs involved. With the correct nursing care in place there would not be so many people being admitted to A&E in acute hospital settings. If one is frail but otherwise keeping fairly well, then a residential setting with social care needs is fine. But not with complex care and dementia.

  5. I think you have a good point here – it is cosmetics and playing with language/semantics and presentation – the important thing is the reputation locally not the name


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