It’s good to talk

The Commission of Social Care Inspection are, according to the BBC, reporting the groundbreaking news that when staff in care homes talk to residents with dementia, it helps to prevent the residents from becoming withdrawn.

twenty_questions twenty_questions  @flickr

At the risk of being a little cynical, one does wonder how much research was needed to come up with this data!

I shouldn’t be too harsh though because greater awareness around care for the elderly, particularly in residential settings can only be positive in the long term – and if the CSCI is considering communication  levels as a part of its inspection of care homes nationally, then it raises the focus on that area and hopefully will promote the issue as a training need within more care homes.

I think treating people with humanity regardless of their diagnosis and ability to respond is really the key. Talking to someone with dignity and respect even if the words that you say cannot always be comprehended or responded to. It doesn’t seem that it needs a great deal of effort – or skill – or professional training.

It was genuinely surprising to me that

‘ the average resident with dementia (is) getting just two minutes of chat every six hours.’

I honestly don’t think I would be able to exist on two minutes of chat every six hours (apart from when I’m asleep.. even then I’ve been known to mumble occasionally!).

I’ve been into a few care homes where I have seen the classic staff-sitting-in-office with noone in the sitting room keeping residents company  and/or  groups of people sitting in front of a loud TV on a random channel (or worse, on a channel that is of more interest to the staff than the residents).

But on the other hand, I’ve been to many where the interaction is good and strong.

It is always a key indication of the attitude of the staff in a more general way too as someone who spares the time to sit down and talk is more likely to be attentive to other needs.

I know most of the care homes I have seen would claim issues of staffing levels but perhaps the CSCI can work this into their recommendation of staffing levels to homes.

At least with the point being highlighted by CSCI it has a possibility of being remedied.

The other point of concern though, in the BBC piece was that

“This report shows that homes barely meeting standard requirements are being given acceptable star ratings.”

The ‘star’ rating system by which care home standards are judged, needs to be a trustworthy system. Honestly, I think more needs to be done about poor standards of care within Care Homes and the only way the pain is felt at the moment is through the pocket.

Care Homes have to be at a pretty disgraceful standard – or there has to have been a fairly serious incident before placements are suspended.

It’s good that the CSCI has picked up on the failings of their own star system – hopefully it will provide a better measure in the future that can be more reliable all round. Not just for social care professionals who know their way around the system and the language to look for, but more for families who are accessing privately funded care and rely heavily on the star system to indicate quality.