Category: CT blog


Flu jabs – a vexed question

Posted on September 18th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 3 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

As the days grow shorter and temperatures fall, the annual anxiety about ‘flu and whether or not to be vaccinated against it returns to plague us.

For care home operators this is a vexed question. Without doubt, flu carries-off elderly people every year, and the contagious nature of influenza makes it a big headache for care homes and hospitals.

But there is very real doubt about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, with some scientists putting its effectiveness as no more than 50%. No one claims it to be 100% effective, and it is demonstrably not the case; many of us will know of someone who has had the jab, only to subsequently develop flu.

And there is some doubt about the safety of the vaccine, and while most health authorities do their best to assuage people’s fears, one … Read More »


Health & social care integration – an epic quest of the 21st Century

Posted on September 4th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Health & social care integration – an epic quest of the 21st Century

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

For centuries, marine explorers sought to find a ‘North West Passage’ whereby ships could travel from the North Atlantic, across the top of Canada and so into Asian waters. Their endeavours were hampered by the vagaries of wind, extreme low temperatures, drifting pack ice and the very real risk of becoming ice-bound.

It was not until 2009 that a reduction in ice brought about by climate change enabled a permanently navigable North West Passage to be established.

To my mind, those who would bring about health and social care integration find themselves just as challenged as those early explorers and that, until a circumstance as potent as climate change supervenes, the best they can hope for is only limited success.

Take ‘Devo-Manc’, the health and social care integration programme for Greater Manchester which left the slipway in April … Read More »


Getting it right – all the time

Posted on August 29th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

It is a truism that the sort of care residents receive varies very substantially between homes; on this point Care Quality Commission reports no more than put detail onto simple observation. The rather more subtle finding of a recent report from the consumer organisation Healthwatch – or ‘healthwatch’ as they sometimes annoyingly write it – is that ‘The quality of care varies . . . also within the same home’.

What it’s like to live in a care home, the findings from a study which draws on visits to 197 homes carried out between January and April 2017, is not simply saying that places which do good work on, say, involving volunteers or bringing in members of the local community may be less successful at providing general healthcare for their residents or ensuring pain control for people … Read More »


Extracare – the next best solution?

Posted on August 21st, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Extracare – the next best solution?

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Academics at Newcastle University say that an average of almost nine thousand more care home beds will be needed each year for the next eight years to meet the growing need consequent to us all living longer.

If they’re right we have a problem as for the past few years there have been fewer care home beds as closures have outpaced new care homes coming on stream.

No problem of course for the flourishing self-pay market in the south but it very much looks as though care homes are going to be increasingly out of reach for frail elderly people living in the north of the UK.

I don’t see the Government taking the sort of radical action needed to address the problem (relieving local authorities of their social care funding responsibilities and replacing the present unwieldy, costly and … Read More »


Care homes discounted in end of life care

Posted on August 14th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

I am sure that we all want those who we care for to experience ‘a good death’ when the time comes. At present about one-in-five people spend their last days and hours in a care home and I know of many care homes which deliver excellent standards of end of life care.

Staff in hundreds of care homes have gone through the rigorous assessment procedures of the Gold Standards Framework (GSF) in end of life care, with many homes achieving ‘beacon’ status, the highest level of accreditation awarded by GSF. Indeed, some care homes actively promote best practise, giving other care homes and agencies the benefit of their expertise.

A recent survey of organisations providing specialist palliative care services to care homes gives the briefest of mentions to the good work done by care homes and focuses instead … Read More »


Perhaps I’m ‘app’athetic

Posted on August 7th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

I’ve got an app in my toolbox that allows me to bang-in nails – I call it a hammer. I’ve got another app, a drill, that allows me to make perfectly circular holes in wood, but I think the app I like best is the one which enables me to make mortise joints – I call it a chisel.

You can see that I’m no stranger to apps – I’ve been using them since I was a boy – so I find it hard to stifle a yawn when somebody phones me up or sends me a press release telling me all about a new app which will make elderly care so terrific that we’ll all be queuing-up to move into our nearest care home at the first sign of a headache once we’ve turned 65.

Without exception, … Read More »


Fond memories of long distance discomfort

Posted on July 31st, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Fond memories of long distance discomfort

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

The Ford Anglia, the earliest models of which were built in 1939, was a great car for a small family; perfect for trundling down to visit old Uncle Frank in his care home in Margate. With a couple of suitcases fixed to the roof with long leather straps going through the tops of the windows, you could even bump down to Cornwall in it for your annual holiday.

But for all its retro lines and sturdy construction, I don’t think I’d want to drive a Ford Anglia today; not much in the way of suspension, rattled to blazes at anything over 50, the non-powered oversteering raised the hairs on the back of your hands and I’m not sure if you can still get the tyres.

While you still see enthusiasts trundling about in them on sunny weekends, … Read More »


Money Can’t Buy Me Care

Posted on July 24th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Every so often someone writing a speech or press release trots out the tired old trope about “older people receiving the care they deserve”.

As a piece of patronising drivel it’s hard to beat. Nobody “deserves” good care; it’s not something one receives as a reward for meritorious conduct, you don’t get good care in recognition of your past contribution to society. Older people get good care because they need it. End of story.

Well, not quite; even if we accept the word ‘care’ as shorthand for ‘care services’, the situation doesn’t change. The reality of limited resources means that care services are rationed, but on the dual bases of means and need, not ‘deservability’.

Having pots of money might guarantee you good care services but not necessarily good care. Otherwise there’d be no need for CQC to inspect … Read More »


Building true communities

Posted on July 17th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 6 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Nightingale House, a care home in South London, is soon to include a children’s nursery on the same site; the first example in the UK, so far as I am aware, of this kind of co-provision.

While there will always be some who will seek the sense of protection and security afforded by gated communities and the like, I think a true sense of community can only come from a mix of age groups, all of whom see a particular group of buildings and open spaces as being very much a ‘shared turf’ where the generations can engage with each other and all enjoy richer lives as a consequence.

There will always be limitations on how truly a ‘home’ a care home can be but, by integrating a care home with its surrounding social environment, I think that … Read More »


Telling it like it is

Posted on July 10th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

With accustomed dismay I monitored the media’s response to the Care Quality Commission’s recently published ‘State of Social Care’ report.

Unlike the media response, the report itself was neither unreasonable nor alarmist but very few people will take the trouble to read it, misguidedly relying on newspaper, TV and radio reports to render an accurate and unweighted account.

It was ever thus and there is little, it seems, that the sector can do other than grimace and bear it. But what annoys me most is that, in their never-ending pursuit of a bad news story, the national media cause a lot of unwarranted anxiety and distress to older people and their families.

Most of us perceive the news of the day through the filters of our own experience, judgment and prejudices, but the mental frailty which accompanies old … Read More »



Latest blog posts

Flu jabs – a vexed question

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

As the days grow shorter and temperatures fall, the annual anxiety about ‘flu and whether or not to be vaccinated...

Health & social care integration – an epic quest of the 21st Century

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

For centuries, marine explorers sought to find a ‘North West Passage’ whereby ships could travel from the North Atlantic, across...

Getting it right – all the time

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

It is a truism that the sort of care residents receive varies very substantially between homes; on this point Care...