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Care home residents lack access to healthcare

Care home residents are struggling to get access to GPs and routine medicines, and more than half of primary care trusts do not offer access to the full range of health services residents may need, a report warns today. (Image: Rex Features)

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Care home residents are struggling to get access to GPs and routine medicines, and more than half of primary care trusts do not offer access to the full range of health services residents may need, a report warns today. 

Fifty seven per cent of older people in care homes cannot access all the NHS services they may require and PCTs are not giving “sufficient priority” to this group when planning and monitoring health services, according to a British Geriatrics Society analysis of data collected by the Care Quality Commission.

The CQC looked at 81 care homes in England in attempt to get a snapshot of the problems they faced in trying to ensure access to basic NHS services.

The BGS found that most PCTs planned healthcare for their local population by assessing the needs of people who lived in their own homes – so the needs of elderly people living in care homes were frequently not taken into account.

Just 38% of homes reported getting regular visits from GPs, with one in 10 saying they had to pay GPs to get them to visit residents. One-third of homes said they sometimes struggled getting medicines to residents on time and many reported long waits to get an initial continence assessment. The data also showed that there was limited access for care homes to specialist care, with only 60% of PCTs ensuring access to a geriatrician.

“The NHS disengaged from care homes when they became private sector nursing homes,” said BGS president Professor Finbarr Martin. “Care home residents have potentially become disenfranchised from a lot of community health services they would expect to get if they were in their own homes. There is an assumption that they are taken care of. The NHS, if it is about patient-centred care and equitable access, has to look at care home residents and meet their needs.”

He called on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to create quality standards for healthcare provision for care home residents.

Image: Rex Features

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