Archive for October, 2012
In a new review of home care services in England the need to provide supportive and informative care to people who do not wish to spend the rest of their lives in a care home is clearly laid out. Where the Heart is…… reviews all types of care provided and their effectiveness in meeting the needs of a growing population of older people. They found that people value regular contact with familiar faces who are on time and respectful of their individual needs. The report also highlights the important work of home care in preventing illness, increasing socialisation, reducing the need for full time care either in hospital of a care home and in maintaining a person’s level of independence.
As our culture changes in the UK so must our attitude towards the most vulnerable people in society who may not always have a voice about their own needs. For everyone to remain a valued member of this society we must make sure that their voices are heard and their needs to remain independent as far as possible addressed.
Ann Clwyd MP in Wales talks about her view on home care
Compassion in health and social care is what we might commonly call a ‘given’. It is assumed and expected as a basic common courtesy. So why do we need to Develop a Culture of Compassionate Care ? Some might think that they are already doing it but this is dangerous to assume and every time we hear of another unnecessary death in health and social care we are reminded to stop and think about what we really are doing.
Unfortunately we only really recognise compassion when it is not there, otherwise known as compassion fatigue or burnout when people feel they can no longer cope with a situation. This can be observed when people back away, detach themselves, ignore and/or deny that there may be a problem. Being cheerful and even friendly is not going to help in this situation as it is just another form of denial. In order to demonstrate compassion then we need to demonstrate that we are genuinely involved in helping others and that we want to spend time with them for as long as it takes. Being compassionate doesn’t mean feeling sorry for another person or demonstrating pity as this can come across as paternalistic. People who are in need of our help intuitively recognise a compassionate person as someone who really listens to what they have to say and is prepared to do something that will help them to deal with the situation. If we really care about compassion we would be looking for ways to demonstrate it – every day of our lives.
I caught a programme recently on Health before the NHS which was a very interesting look at what was essentially private health care in the UK. There was a definite lack of research around then with more trial and error approaches to finding a cure – if you were lucky enough to afford it. If you were not you were either looked after by family members at home or in the workhouse. Some hospitals that are probably in decline now around the country were originally workhouses and I remember the fear some of the older people I worked with had of them. There was a fear that if you went into the workhouse you never came out and that you would die in there. Home care was therefore preferable but this was usually carried out by family members or neighbours who are also known as lay people. They may have a lot of experiences in caring but they have learnt this on the job, often through trial and error finding out what works and what doesn’t. Often this is a very person centred way of providing care in that you are trying to find out what works the best for that individual person. It can also be a little risky in that we cannot be sure that some methods employed might also cause harm to the person. The only way of being sure is by seeking professional help who can advise and support lay people in making safe decisions. Professionals are also expected to be registered with a professional body and to base their practice in a sound evidence base that they can share with others. Lay people also known as carers, represent a large part of current health and social care and without them the system would probably collapse. It is important therefore to take their concerns very seriously and to help them gain professional support in the very important role that they have in our caring society.