Posts Tagged ‘elderly care’

What the manifestos mean for the care sector

Friday, April 24th, 2015

As the election looms it appears that we are no closer to having a clear indication of who will be in government come June. The electorate will have their say on the 7th of May, with the playing fields seemingly level between the two main parties and a host of former outsiders looking to make significant inroads. Multiple competing views are represented and how social care policy care policy will look six months from now appears increasingly muddled. Whatever the outcome, the next parliament will be absolutely key to how the country balances cuts to spending with managing the needs of an ageing population stretching services to breaking point.

The manifestos are out, with Labour and the Conservatives placing down markers of their vision for the future of social care.  The Conservatives, classically seen as the protectors of personal wealth, have focused their commitments on ensuring that people are protected from massive care costs by shifting payments to local authorities as per the Care Act. While this is good news for the individual, it fails to answer how councils – who are already struggling with their care bills – will fund this.

Labour, the traditional champions of the NHS and social care have stated that they wish to end the culture of fifteen-minute care visits, and bring an extra 15,000 homecare workers into the fold. While these address problems at the heart of social care in the UK, funding again fails to be accounted for – an issue that lies at the heart of the challenge.

The other parties see this election as their opportunity to have a much greater say by being brought into government, with pundits stating that no party is likely to have a majority. The Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Green Party all have a vision of a more integrated health and social care system to some degree, but are vague on both details and funding strategies. The SNP meanwhile have yet to nail their flag to the mast on social care. While these parties stand no chance of governing alone, they each have the potential to shape any would-be coalition’s social care policy.

Talking about shaking up social care policy and delivery is easy, implementing it will prove to be far harder. While it is good to see the Parties opening up a discourse about the problems the industry is facing and how to combat them, the electorate deserve a realistic explanation of how solutions will be brought about. So far none of the parties have delivered this.

One million elderly people lack basic social care

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

With the General Election campaign in full swing, the most important issue for many elderly people and their families, is being sidestepped as “too difficult” for politicians to tackle.

According to The Independent, experts at Age UK estimate that around one million elderly people that need basic care, are simply being left to struggle on at home.

Age UK, the leading charity dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life, says this is the single most important issue for older voters in the Election.  And if it’s important for those experiencing unmet social care needs, you can bet it’s equally so for their families.  So those asking for our votes in May are ignoring a vital issue for potentially many millions of voters.

Forty per cent cuts to government funding for local councils, and the withdrawal of more than £1bn from the social care sector since 2011, has shifted the responsibility for caring for elderly people to the NHS and left it struggling to cope because of its own staffing and funding issues.  This has resulted in a catastrophic gap, filled increasingly by a mixture including partners and family members, with serious impact on their own health conditions, jobs and lives.

The full extent of the state withdrawal of social care services was revealed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which shows that 10,600 council jobs in adult social care – 8 per cent of the total workforce – were lost between 2013-2014.  This workforce has decreased by 10,000 a year since 2011 while the ageing population continues to rise, though this does not include those working for charities or private companies.

Hospital admissions are also rising and admissions of patients aged between 65-69 – who may require greater care and support – increased the fastest, by 5.5 per cent.

Elderly people suffering trips and falls at home, which might be avoidable with proper social care support, accounted for over 400,000 admissions, according to the HSCIC, up by more than 10,000 on last year. Absence of social care also contributes to keeping elderly patients in hospital.  As we’ve said before, so-called bed-blocking is a major cause of lack of hospital beds and long waits in A&E departments.

Age UK estimates that £3.36bn needs spending to meet the needs of our most vulnerable senior citizens.  It’s a lot of money but just 0.22 of our GDP. But the question remains, are our political parties brave enough to commit to tackling this issue or will they continue to evade one of the most pressing social problems facing our country?


Prestige acquires Elite Care, Scotland

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Everyone at Prestige Nursing + Care is very excited this week, as we’ve announced that we have acquired Elite Care (Scotland) Ltd.  Elite Care was originally established in St Andrews in Fife over 30 years ago, and also has regional offices in Dundee and Crieff.  The 170 staff and management have worked very hard to build up a great reputation for delivering high quality care services, which is exactly why Elite Care is going to be such a great fit with Prestige, which also prides itself on the quality of its care.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to be joining forces with such a well-established provider of home care services in Scotland.  I’m pleased to say that all the staff, who provide thousands of hours of care to senior citizens and vulnerable people in Tayside and Fife, will continue to work as normal following the acquisition.  We are actively looking to recruit to expand the team and the well-known and respected name, Elite Care, is being retained.

The acquisition also allows us to increase Prestige’s share of the Scottish care market while reinforcing our strategy of acquiring well-diversified, high quality mid-market care providers.

This opportunity for us to grow Prestige, which provides services ranging from occasional relief care to 24-hour home nursing, has come about because Elite Care’s owners are planning to enjoy a well-deserved retirement after over 30 years of building a very successful and valued home care business.

However, I’m delighted to say that Jason Logan, who has worked at Elite Care for several years, will remain with us to head up the business under Prestige.  Jason is also very excited about the opportunity this presents and is looking forward to developing Elite Care‘s services even further.

Staff at Elite Care’s offices will be joining over 100 Prestige staff at over 40 branches nationwide, and over 3,000 nurses and care workers registered to provide homecare and healthcare services.  We are looking forward very much to working with Elite care’s staff and clients. For further news on the acquisition please click here.

Labour Pledge Could Mean Better Care For The Elderly

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

In a bid to raise the standard of care in residential homes across the country, a Labour government would hold the owners, management and directors of care homes responsible for how those people in their care are treated.  Mistreatment could result in custodial sentences for those responsible, according to Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary.

Mr Burnham is reported to have pledged to introduce a new charge of “corporate neglect”, which could result in jail sentences or fines for the owners, managers and boards of private care homes.

Many people outside the health and care industry might be surprised to learn that criminal charges in connection with the care of vulnerable people who live in private care homes currently only apply to care home staff, not senior managers or owners. Whereas in the state sector, criminal charges can be brought against whoever is involved in the mistreatment or poor standards.

One of the major benefits of Mr Burnham’s proposed change would be to improve the success rate of tackling poor standards and abuse.  Proving neglect or cruelty can be very difficult in the case of a single individual, but it will be easier to call the entire organisation to account for its poor standards of care.

As the Panorama programme highlighted last year, while there is never an excuse for cruelty, neglect or abuse, greater investment in the sector is essential.  Better, more frequent training, higher salaries to attract better quality staff and higher staffing levels would all help to combat the underlying reasons for low standards, neglect and mistreatment as highlighted in previous Prestige Nursing + Care blogs.

Last year we called for stricter consequences for failing care homes, which are still yet to be implemented.  If a care home is failing it ought to be given a short notice period in which to improve and if it fails to do so, the home must be shut down.

We welcome the shadow health secretary’s pledge to apply greater sanctions and hope this results in more immediate action to improve the culture and attitudes of all those working in the care industry.

Protection needed for social care funding to avoid another crisis

Friday, February 20th, 2015

NHS crises could increase without the protection of social care funding as thousands of vulnerable people risk missing out on vital services. A recent article in Public Finance explains that local government leaders have called on Chancellor George Osborne to use next month’s Budget as a way to put social care funding on a ‘sustainable financial footing’. Specifically, the Chancellor is being urged to protect the funding in order for councils to better support the NHS.

This winter has shown first-hand the problems that come with an underfunded social care system, which places added pressure on an already stretched NHS. The combined pressures of insufficient funding with growing demands highlights the urgent need for a long-term solution. According to, thousands of people are at risk of seeing loved ones deprived of access to care services that would allow them to remain independent. Instead, older or vulnerable people are being left in hospital beds due to a lack of support that would help them to otherwise live in their own homes, a trend frequently referred to as bed-blocking and covered by previous Prestige Nursing + Care blogs.

Currently, many elderly are not being supported with daily tasks such as washing, dressing or leaving the house. This leads them to rely on family and friends for assistance, often driving relationships to a ‘crisis point’. Without the funding protection, the social care system could push local services too far resulting in a much wider crisis of support.

Health experts and council leaders warn that forcing councils to cut already underfunded social care while protecting and investing money in the NHS is a false economy, as this Care Appointments article argues. The 40 per cent cut in local government budgets is forcing councils to make impossible decisions on which services they provide.

Clearly a cohesive and efficient solution is required to avoid the same pressures occurring year after year. As the population continues to age and encounters more health problems than ever before as a result, it is imperative that we adapt to provide social care providers with the funds and support they need to deliver high quality care. This in turn would reduce the burden on the NHS so both can function effectively.

Special measures and treatment of whistle-blowers highlight importance of accountability.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

According to a recent Guardian article, investigations into poor patient care have been cited as appalling and inadequate, and have let down numerous patients – a worrying sign that lessons have not been learnt from recent hospital scandals. Tens of thousands of people each year fail to report failings by the NHS as they have no faith in the system and believe that complaining makes no difference.

Yet in cases where organisations and trusts have been held accountable and put in special measures as a response to failings, experts say the action has saved hundreds of lives. An article in The Independent shows the effects that the drastic measures, including assigning new managers, undertaking recruitment drives and appointing hundreds of new medical staff have had in improving standards for patient safety.

But more needs to be done. Recommended solutions include a complete overhaul of the complaints system to ensure that every incident is fully investigated. However, simply calling for everything to be restarted from scratch is not the answer. Of course we agree that all incidents should be investigated and learnt from but this approach fails to tackle the issue at the heart of the matter.

Instead, a change in attitudes is required, as set out by this article by The Telegraph which calls for reform to end the ‘cover- up’ culture within the NHS. Importantly, the drive behind this must not be to create a culture of blame but to prevent the same mistakes from ever happening again. Greater accountability and scrutiny would tackle the problem head on.

In the same vein, re-examining the treatment of whistle-blowers in the health and social care sector is also of paramount importance. In extreme cases whistle-blowers face losing their jobs or being ostracized, and many others are simply ignored. Instead this should be an effective way to ensure a high standard of care for patients and encourage experts in the area to voice concerns.

This would go a long way to help improve patient confidence in the sector – something that has suffered blow after blow in the wake of multiple recent scandals. Encouraging whistle-blowers and listening to employee concerns would show that the industry has nothing to hide and is committed to improving the quality of service while learning from past mistakes.

‘Hello, my name is…’ campaign highlights need for personalised, compassionate care.

Thursday, February 5th, 2015


Prestige Nursing + Care is a strong advocate of the importance of care employees working to build a personal relationship with those under their care, and believes that the recently launched “Hello, My name is…” campaign represents an excellent drive to enhance these relationships. The campaign is the brainchild of NHS consultant Dr. Kate Granger, who when undergoing treatment for aggressive cancer three years ago felt that “the lack of introductions made me feel like a diseased body and not a real person”.


“Hello, my name is…” aims to spread the importance and positivity that the construction of a personal relationship with a caregiver can provide a patient and – as this BBC article highlights – reminds staff to go back to basics to build trust. The campaign’s uptake has so far been strong. A massive 400,000 NHS members of staff have already committed to the campaign to build better personal relationships with those undergoing treatment, with employees in positions ranging from receptionists to cardiac surgeons represented.


Furthermore, over 100 NHS trusts have agreed to work to implement its principles and the Scottish Government announced an allocation of £40,000 to boards to roll the campaign out across the country. The campaign also effectively highlights the positive impact that cost-free gestures like a personable approach have on care quality, and will hopefully highlight their strategic importance to policymakers.


At Prestige we strongly believe in developing the relationship between those working in the health and social care sector and those who use its services. In the past we have written about the lessons that the health service can take from the way in which social care is conducted, for example, adopting a more collaborative and patient focused approach which treats each patient as an individual, not simply part of the collective. Hopefully this grass-roots movement will provide an excellent foundation for the NHS to further develop how it relates to patients, and highlight the importance of patient-provider relationships across the industry.

A new era for health and social care or just wishful thinking?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Social care is a key battleground upon which the 2015 general election will be fought, emphasised yesterday by Ed Miliband’s pledge to reform the sector in order to improve its efficiency.  The system has been under intense pressure and scrutiny in recent years, and several failings in the past months such as ‘bed blocking’ and severe cuts to council care budgets have been widely criticised by the press and in previous Prestige blogs.

The Labour leader has given his vision of how social care organisation and delivery will look under a Labour government, which when implemented would mark a radical reform of the service. One key feature is that the prevalent and widely condemned culture of 15 minute visits would be disposed of, in a move which would bring many who are currently receiving a bare standard of care back into the fold. The service would be merged with the NHS in a far-reaching overhaul in order to create a more efficient and streamlined service. Staff shortages would be dealt with by the recruitment of an extra 36,000 personnel – 5,000 of whom would be care workers.

While Prestige is positive about any plans to boost social care’s efficiency and end many of the budgetary problems plaguing it, more details are needed about exactly how this would be achieved. Firstly, firm answers are needed about how changes would be funded. While talk of an extra £2.5bn a year for the NHS is all well and good, the public need a clear breakdown of where this will come from rather than vague rhetoric about mansion taxes and  closing loopholes. Secondly, merging social care services with the NHS – one of the World’s biggest organisations – will undoubtedly be difficult. If done well, it would signal a new era for the healthcare system and one in which individual needs are considered and delivered. However, the parties involved must avoid getting bogged down in red-tape and bureaucracy while failing to see the larger picture. Communication is key and it is imperative that each different area in the sector works together to achieve a positive end result.

NICE guidance welcome but funding the only way to solve the NHS crisis

Monday, January 19th, 2015

The latest guidance from NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) offers instruction to A&E departments on how to ensure safe levels of nursing staff. This follows recent news that more people than ever are waiting longer to be seen at A&E – a problem likely to be exacerbated by the worsening weather predicted in the coming weeks. The guidance continues to stress the need for adequate numbers of staff to meet rising demand and pressures from an ageing population and more people with long-term conditions, while still ensuring a good standard of care.

The news, published in The Telegraph, that A&Es will be forced to declare nurse shortages is an interesting addition to the guidance that has the potential to give patients and their families greater scrutiny over care. Due to concerns about severely short-staffed units, NICE guidance calls for a maximum of four patients per nurse and believes that hospitals without the correct staffing levels should have to inform the public. This comes following widespread evidence of staff shortages and overcrowding across the NHS, as well as failings in the length of time people are required to wait and the standard of care that patients eventually receive.

Similarly, an article in The Guardian highlights the NICE suggestion that patients should be moved in instances of extreme overcrowding or additional staff brought in from other wards to address the shortages. While the benefits of such guidelines are clear to see, they fail to address exactly how this would be achieved in a time of funding cuts, staff shortages and greater demand on services across the entire health and social care sector – not just in A&E.

Legitimate concerns remain that many hospitals will simply be unable to meet the requirements set out by NICE. For example, it is not clear where the spare staff would come from. What is clear, however, is the need for all parties in the run-up to the election to come up with a cohesive and comprehensive plan to invest in the NHS and increase recruitment efforts. Greater emphasis on budgets and staffing levels must be taken into account as funding remains the key factor in solving the NHS crisis.



The solution to bed-blocking lies closer to home than policymakers think.

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Recent articles in the Guardian and the Times have revealed the shocking extent of bed-blocking across the NHS and how alarmingly common it is in certain UK hospitals. Bed-blocking has been examined in previous Prestige blogs, and refers to situations in which individuals who – although well enough to leave hospital – are detained due to a lack of external care provision required to meet their post-hospital needs. The Guardian’s research found that in some hospitals, such as Addenbrooke’s in Cambridgeshire, as many as 87 beds out of a possible 1,000 are occupied by bed blockers.

Widespread policy failures lie at the heart of this problem. Social care has for the most part been neglected by successive governments when pursuing healthcare agendas, resulting in an underfunded sector that often lacks a cohesive national policy. Councils often lack the necessary funds to actively meet the care requirements of those leaving hospital, which can result in long term hospital stays for the vulnerable.

On an individual level, this unnecessarily exposes the elderly to hospital viruses, isolates them and keeps them away from their homes and family for prolonged periods of time. On a systematic level, it can add huge amounts of pressure and cost to the NHS through limiting bed spaces and resources.

Prestige is a champion of homecare and knows that it can alleviate the pressures that bed blocking is putting upon NHS resources. Not only is homecare more cost effective than care homes (many of which cost more than councils are willing to pay), but it can also provide familiar and friendly setting in which the vulnerable are looked after.

Despite the negative case study provided in this article, home care and special support perform an invaluable role by allowing frail or unwell elderly people to return home. In many cases it means people can leave hospital sooner with guaranteed support for tasks in the home that would otherwise be too much. Yet constant cuts to social care budgets have undermined the work of local authorities, councils and the CQC, slowing their ability to get people back home and into the community.’

With the battle lines in the lead up to the election clearly drawn around the NHS and social care, all parties need to demonstrate their commitment to improving funding levels and reducing inefficient bureaucracy, red tape and loopholes. Only by doing this will the industry be able to operate effectively, with the best interests of the patient in mind and a reduced focus on the ‘bottom line’.