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Keeping Residents Voices at the Heart of Care

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The challenging climate within which care providers deliver services is well documented. The changing needs of residents, the

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tightening of financial pressures and the ongoing recruitment and retention of skilled staff are amongst the day to day difficulties encountered by managers and front line staff alike. In the light of these factors, keeping person centred care at the heart of everything that happens within a care home can be challenging.

In light of this, it is critically important that providers of care access all the resource available to them to keep residents needs front and centre. One excellent way of doing this is to utilise the ‘Keys to Care’. This valuable resource has been produced by the Relatives and Residents Association, and comprises of a neat set of hand held resources which cover core elements including care planning, continence care, mouth and teeth care and the deeply sensitive issues of dementia and end of life care. These have been designed by people who are living within services, and front line staff. Each card is developed in the same format, triggering care workers to think through three key areas – what do I need to think about, what do I need to ask and then what do I need to do. By repeating this mantra of Think, Ask, Do – the cards reinforce an approach to working which encourages reflection, engagement and action – all of which make up an approach to care which puts the emphasis on the needs of the individual.

The range of tools which are designed by, or capture the voices of those using services, are growing. Alongside Keys to Care, there are a number of key resources that organisations can access to help keep the focus on person centred care. The Patients Association have just released a new charter for Care Homes. This has been developed following some research exploring the ways in which staff within homes were crushing or altering medication to make it easier for patients with Dysphasia to swallow.  Concerns about the impact of this approach on the efficacy of the medication led to the Patients Association working with residents and front line staff to develop a charter outlining the responsibilities of all parties in ensuring that residents with Dysphasia received the right care, appropriate to their wants and in support of the safe and effective administration of their medication.

Finally, there are a number of excellent resources which ensure that the service offered can be understood through a series of ‘I statements’ that outline what is important and how it can be achieved. The first of these is the standards developed under the banner of ‘Making it Real’, which have been formulated and supported by Think Local Act Personal. The focus of these is to explain, through the words of someone who lives within, or receives services, what truly personalised provision would feel like. They are incredibly powerful, and also function as an excellent resource to engage with individuals interested in setting their own outcomes, measuring the responsiveness of your services or carrying out individual or peer to peer planning. In a similar vein, in May 2016, Leading Change, Adding Value was launched. This framework was launched to enable nursing, midwifery and care staff to change the narrative of how they communicated with each other and those who are using services. It has been a very influential framework

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and importantly recognises the necessity of supporting family members as well as the individual who is in receipt of care.

This is a snapshot of what is out there to support frontline staff in their delivery of care. There are almost no costs associated with gaining these resources, although once obtained, it is of course critical to ensure staff are supported to adapt and deliver their ways of working into a more consistent person centred framework. The costs of action are limited, the costs of taking no action are profound. It is therefore key that amongst all the noise of crisis and activity in adult social care, frontline staff are adequately equipped to raise the voices of the people that are living within services.

Article by Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum

NCF is the national membership body for not-for-  profit care and support providers. For more details on their work contact info@nationalcareforum.org.ukwww.nationalcareforum.org.uk @NCFcareforum

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