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Is it time for a ‘Democratic Revolution’ in the care sector?

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Posted on 24th October 2011.

A recent report commissioned by a leading charity has concluded that a ‘democratic revolution’ in the way that care homes are run is required across Britain.

The report was commissioned by Sue Ryder, a UK health and social care charity, to look at the future care needs of an aging Britain; the findings prompted the charity to speak out about the way that care homes are currently being run in the UK.

The idea behind the “democratic revolution” is that residents should have more of an active involvement in the day-to-day running of their individual care or residential homes.  This would mean residents are involved in activities such as staff recruitment, the purchasing of equipment and the organisation of daily activities. Sue Ryder wants care home providers to embrace the recommendations and give their residents the opportunity to influence all aspects of their home and their care.

Many are in favour of the proposals; indeed Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive for the Patients Association argues that without involvement in the decision making process, residents feel that their freedom has been taken away from them; “Care homes become the only home they know and unless they have some say in how it is run they can feel like they have been robbed of control over their lives and their independence.”

Although in principle this appears to be a positive step forward to ensure that residential care homes are run to as high a standard as possible, with active involvement from residents and providers alike, many argue that the reality is often quite different.

Critics of the plan argue that if residents are able to take such an active involvement in administration decisions, they shouldn’t be in living in care homes in the first place. There is certain logic to the argument, surely given the choice of where they receive their care, most people would choose their home.

The issue is not whether a democratic revolution is required in the UK residential care system, it is how to improve the level of information in the sector and increase the choices about how and where care is provided.

Once information about the different options becomes available to people, they begin to understand that there are often alternatives to residential care which maintain independence and allow the person requiring care to remain in their own home, surrounded by familiar belongings and in a familiar routine.

Only once this information is available to everyone will those requiring care get the care system they deserve.

If you would like to discuss the care options of yourself or loved one, please feel free to call Helping Hands in complete confidence on 0808 180 9455.

Sally Tomkotowicz