Welcome to Communal Living in Care Homes

The day has arrived when you help your loved one move into a care home. Welcome to the world of communal living. For many families it is not an easy option, but they may find their loved one has developed complex, sometimes challenging care needs requiring24 hour supervision. Their loved one has possibly had to sell their home to pay for this new chapter of their life. A chapter where they hope to be cared for with dignity and respect by people trained in their specific needs. They may arrive with a small suitcase of clothes and a few personal possessions. For some who have family, they may have a family member with them, who is trying to put on a brave face, but inside they want to collapse with the intense emotion of this event. A huge transition for the whole family network.

It does not take long for reality to strike. Welcome to the world of communal living. Common issues in care homes: Families turn up to find their loved ones: Wearing other residents' clothing Wearing other residents' footwear, sometimes different size and two different shoes/slippers Wearing no footwear Wearing dirty clothing Clothing missing Personal belongings missing Sat in a chair alone Wandering the corridors alone Dried food down their face/clothes Unwashed hair Offensive odours due to lack of personal care Urine soaked clothing due to overflowing incontinence products

Families see: Residents wandering the corridors, in and out of other residents' rooms - unsupervised

Residents becoming agitated by others behaviour - unsupervised

Residents sat on commodes in bedrooms with bedroom door left open - unsupervised Residents sat in lounge areas watching meaningless TV programmes Activity schedules displayed on walls that never materialise Jugs of water and juice displayed, but seldom staff sitting and encouraging them to drink Meal times - unsupervised Meal times - no drinks given to residents Staff rushing around, clearly not able to cope due to staff shortages Staff who struggle to cope with residents with dementia. No specialist skills What happens: Staff occasionally confide with families. They share their frustration that they report issues to Care Home, Local Authority, CQC and nothing done, so they carry on doing the best they can with what they have, or they leave thinking it is impossible, it will never change.

Cutting corners compromises quality of care. This leads to avoidable incidents.

Families report concerns to care home managers.

The moment you take that step, the relationship changes, there is no going back.

Result: Families are threatened with eviction. They are told: 'If you don't like the way we do things here, then find somewhere else'. 'We cannot meet the needs of your loved one, find another care home'. 'We cannot work with you, we give you ........ notice to move'.

Managers say it is the family who are the problem and upset staff

Care staff who once confided in you now avoid you, fearful for their jobs Terrible atmosphere when families visit Families are banned. The practice of banning is common. It is a hidden scandal that no one seems to want to expose. The reality is care homes can do this unchallenged with no Best Interest Meeting. Families report this to the Regulator who say they cannot help. Care homes can do as they choose. It is they who control the care home sector, the Market Driven Economy. Back to the beginning ...... All a person has when they move in a care home is a bag of clothes, a few personal possessions, the clothes they stand in and hopefully the love of a family. Is it really that unreasonable that those few things are protected? Does this really represent the person centred care we read so much about in care home brochures and web sites? Welcome to the world of communal living.


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