Communication key to improving care homes

(Title Image: BBC Wales)

This week’s short debate came from Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy) on the subject of care homes.

Communication is key

Janet Finch-Saunders identified communication as a key way to support care homes. This includes support for Welsh-speakers in care homes, understanding how dementia affects a resident’s ability to communicate and improved communications between care homes, local councils and health boards.

“The need for a stronger dialogue is apparent when considering incidents such as care home staff not being told what rehabilitation their residents have had in hospital, patients being discharged to care homes with no information at all, and care home staff not being asked for important information, such as how an individual signals their need for the toilet and whether they like drinking from a particular cup, contributing to the situation in which some patients return to homes from hospital unrecognisable from when they went in.”
– Janet Finch-Saunders AM

Wales needs an estimated 20,000 additional workers in the care sector by 2030 and one idea raised by organisations was for nurse training to include both NHS and social care skills as part of the programme, up to an including nursing placements in care homes. This could include care homes holding walk-in clinics or hosting things like infusion therapy and blood testing.

Jayne Bryant AM (Lab, Newport West) voiced support for live music in care homes, which isn’t just entertainment but can improve the wellbeing of people with dementia in particular. Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. W. & S. Pembs.) praised the work of social care staff and called for harmonisation of pay rates between the NHS and social care sectors.

Challenges “well-known and well-documented”

Deputy Minister for Health & Social Care, Julie Morgan (Lab, Cardiff North), said the care sector couldn’t operate in isolation. The challenges, especially the financial challenges, facing the sector were well-known and the Welsh Government were working to achieve a better funding model over the coming years.

The Deputy Minister also highlighted policies to make care careers more attractive:

“I remain absolutely committed to raising the status and the profile of social care workers so that social care does become a positive career choice where people are valued and supported responsibly. We’ve taken steps to help make the social care sector a more attractive place to work, bringing forward regulations in 2018 to improve the terms and conditions of the workforce. These regulations limit the use of zero-hours contracts and ensure that providers clearly differentiate between care and travel time.”
– Deputy Minister for Health & Social Care, Julie Morgan

Councils have been awarded £19million to ensure care providers can implement a living wage, while the government were also funding a three-year care home improvement programme.

The Deputy Minister also expressed support for the idea of holding clinics at care homes, saying “there was no reason why it shouldn’t happen”, as there was a need for flexibility.