We need to sharpen our resolve to reject elderly care on the cheap
TO lose your home at any time is emotionally and physically hard and all the more so late in life.
So the closure of any care home, for whatever reason, has a deep impact not only on those who have come to call it “home”, but upon the tens of individuals who have earned their living there and for whom it is a place of purpose and love.
The Herald’s revelation that a major charitable care home provider has found it necessary to withdraw from the older people’s care home sector is both sad and troubling. It is also concerning there are a growing number of providers on the margins of sustainability and the levels of public funding are wholly inadequate. Whilst we should not be concerned that this is the start of a major set of closures, it is a warning sign that all is not well in the sector.
At the heart of the issue is the extent to which, as a society, we are willing to pay to properly resource the care and support of some of our most vulnerable citizens. At current fee rates we are effectively paying less than £4 an hour for older individuals, often living with dementia, to be cared for. Is that enough? I think not. What price are we prepared to put on care with dignity, giving people choice and control, care and enabling them to live life to the full?
The developing crisis in the care home sector is particularly acute when it comes to the recruitment and retention of the workforce. There is a 28 per cent vacancy level for nurses; and over 70 per cent of care homes are operating with posts unfilled.
Whilst Scottish Care, as the representative body of care homes, is working actively with colleagues in Cosla and the Scottish Government to reshape provision for the future, the events of the last day should help us sharpen our resolve to ensure we develop a care home sector which doesn’t try to deliver care on the cheap but offers real rights-based care to our older citizens. Behind every headline there is someone who has lost that place they call home. We must ensure that that number does not grow.