Better care for staff is key to better care for older people

Posted on December 31st, by geoff in Caring Times, Caring Times head. No Comments

Caring Times, January 2014

Creating a culture of care and respect is the key to preventing the mistreatment of older people in care homes and hospitals, according to a report published in December.

The report, Respect and Protect, summarises the findings of a major programme of research commissioned by Comic Relief and the Department of Health. Supportive leadership and an environment of trust and openness can help prevent staff from doing harmful things, but a culture that does not value and respect staff can mean that good people may end up providing neglectful or unsafe care.

The report, which draws together the findings of 11 individual research studies examining the experiences of older people and care staff in care homes and hospitals in England and Wales, is a wide-ranging analysis of the experience of institutional care and recommends practical steps which can be taken to help prevent the mistreatment of staff as well as residents and patients.

While recognising that much good care is provided, the report makes a valuable contribution to answering the question ‘why do good people sometimes do bad things?’ Comic Relief trustee Harry Cayton said that if society wanted to provide good care for older people, the staff who look after them need to be supported and valued.

“Staff who are under pressure and are poorly trained are most at risk of failing to provide good quality care,” said Mr Cayton.

“The findings in this report, identified through robust academic research, will provide valuable practical advice for everyone in the care sector.”

Key recommendations include:

  • Care providers need to develop and maintain strong cultures of safe and respectful care, supporting and valuing their staff, as well as the people they care for.
  • Identifying and monitoring the signs of organisational ill-health and stress at an early stage is critical in preventing mistreatment of staff as well as residents and patients.
  • Promoting a safe and respectful care culture, actively challenging abuse and neglect all day, every day is the responsibility of all managers, owners, professionals, commissioners and regulators.
  • Improved collaboration, underpinned by a stronger sense of ‘common purpose’, between regulators, commissioners, safeguarding bodies, educators and policy makers, is likely improve our collective ability to ensure the safe and respectful care of older people.

– The report, Respect and Protect, can be downloaded from

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