Category: CT blog


End of life care – care homes can do it well

Posted on October 16th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. No Comments

By guest blogger Professor Keri Thomas,

Clinical director, National GSF Centre for End of Life Care

News that care homes could, based on current trends, overtake hospitals as the most common place for people to die, has many implications for the sector. Aside from the questions of funding and staffing, consider for a moment the preparedness of the existing care homes’ workforce.

As the number of deaths in care homes annually has risen over the last decade from 85,000 to 106,000, so the sector has, at least in pockets, upped its game in the way it cares for people in their final years of life.

Whereas ten years ago many residents would have endured numerous inappropriate hospital admissions and died in hospital, increasing numbers are benefiting from a better trained, more confident workforce equipped to better anticipate and fulfil their wishes. But these pockets … Read More »


The DTOCs dashboard dilemma

Posted on October 9th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

The Department of Health refers to delayed transfers of care – the issue of people not being able to move quickly from acute hospitals to less intensively medical care in the wider community – as DTOCs. My problem is – how do you pronounce it? Is it DeeTeeOhCees or detox? Until someone puts me out of my misery, I’m having to avoid the abbreviation in conversation, instead spelling out the whole inelegant phrase. It almost makes me want to bring back ‘bed-blocking’.

There are, of course, bigger issues at stake. In the absence of a timely discharge, hospital managers are left holding the baby – or, more often of course, the older person – and a hospital system which depends on steady throughput suffers increasing pressure. Fresh patients wait on trolleys or in ambulances because there are … Read More »


From where I stand . . .

Posted on October 2nd, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

A group of residents’ families have criticised the Care Quality Commission’s refusal to review the ‘good’ rating it awarded to the care home where the residents live. The families, who believe the care home deserves an ‘outstanding’ rating, say they made their criticism public without any prompting from the provider concerned. The story will be told in detail in the November issue of Caring Times.

Neither the families nor the regulator are necessarily wrong in their differing assessments; they are each using different methodologies and assessing different things. We may assume the families concerned visit their loved ones at the home very regularly and witness the care delivered over a long period. Their loved ones will tell them how well they are looked after and the relatives can directly observe the positive and supportive relationships between residents … Read More »


Equality & Human Rights – got them sorted?

Posted on September 25th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Safe, Responsive, Caring, Effective and Well-led – the regulator’s ‘Key Lines Of Enquiry’ (KLOEs) cover it all, wouldn’t you think?

Apparently they don’t. Apparently, anyone who aspires to the provision of social care must now give heed to Equality and Human Rights (their capitals, not mine).

Into this acronym-plagued milieu, I’ll throw in another; the time-honoured KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Social care regulation has evolved layers of such Byzantine complexity that we have come to where one piece of regulation may easily find itself in conflict with another. Providers have given me many examples of this but I must try to keep this blog short. However, take risk; on one hand there is plenty of regulatory guidance which encourages risk-taking (it’s in the human rights guidance), and an equally plentiful supply of sanctions for those who … Read More »


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 »



Latest blog posts

End of life care – care homes can do it well

By guest blogger Professor Keri Thomas,

Clinical director, National GSF Centre for End of Life Care

News that care homes could, based on current trends, overtake...

The DTOCs dashboard dilemma

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

The Department of Health refers to delayed transfers of care – the issue of people not being able to move...

From where I stand . . .

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

A group of residents’ families have criticised the Care Quality Commission’s refusal to review the ‘good’ rating it awarded to...