Since the Community Care Act in 1990 the concepts of good quality care for older people have been regularly articulated in terms of dignity, respect, independence, and user control. But this has been against a backdrop of falling budgets, changing criteria and an increasing fragmentation of contact points, whether in terms of service provision, assessment, commissioning, inspection or protection.
As a result it is often more difficult for older people to navigate and control their pathways toward support and it has become difficult to plan and deliver such services. And yet we all know what we want from care support when we think of our own needs, and we invariably know when it is not being planned or delivered for others.
Quality care does not happen by luck. It takes people willing to work together, at times despite their professional boundaries, with the single focus of providing services that enhance the life of an individual in the least intrusive, but most relevant way. In today’s climate it requires creativity and a passion to find ways around obstacles.
The measurement of success is whether or not it gently replaces or supplements what dependence has taken away from someone, and in that regard it is more than just about quality of care.
To be successful a service or project needs to be single-minded in its support of the care user, who should be demonstrably in control have worked around any budget or attitudinal barriers that would normally have stunted its development be warm in its approach, so that the user feels it is friendly and make the rest of us say, “that’s what I want when I get old!”
Gary FitzGerald is chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse and will judge entries submitted from teams working with older people
MEET THE OTHER JUDGES
● Dr Christopher Hanvey is director of operations at Barnardo’s, one of the largest children’s charities, and will judge entries submitted from teams working with children and families and children in care.
● Kathryn Stone is chief executive of Voice UK, a national charity that supports people with learning disabilities who have been abused, and will judge entries submitted from teams working with people with learning disabilities.
● Dr Andrew McCulloch is chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, which incorporates the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, and will judge entries submitted from teams working with people with mental health issues.
● Sue Bott, who is disabled, is strategic director of the National Centre for Independent Living and will judge entries submitted from teams working with people with disability.
This article appeared in the 8 November issue under the headline “‘What will we want when we are old?'”