‘Boost status of care home managers to improve dignity’

Care home managers must be recognised as 'experts in their field' if dignity in care is to improve, a major inquiry has concluded.

Care home managers should be held in higher regard and better supported to improve dignity of care, an inquiry into the issue has concluded.

The leadership role of home managers was crucial in embedding good practice around dignity, but they often lacked support, said the final report of the Commission on Dignity in Care for Older People.

“Care home managers should be recognized as experts in their field,” said the report. “They have demanding jobs, leading and motivating teams of low-paid staff doing difficult work. They often have little back-up and are regularly faced with ethical issues such as those concerning end of life.”

The report said managers should have the ability to making staffing and budget decisions in their homes and their employers should be providing regular training for them.
However, it also said managers should expect to be held accountable for the quality of care in their home and must take the actions necessary to improve the quality of life for residents.

The commission’s report, Delivering Dignity, also proposed a number of changes to training and staff management practices in the care system including:

  • Incorporating feedback from residents, relatives and independent advocates in staff appraisals;
  • Ensuring that all care staff know how to communicate with people who have dementia;
  • Treating “compassionate values and behaviours” as being of equal importance as clinical and technical skill when recruiting staff;
  • Regarding families, friends and carers of residents as “partners in care” rather than a nuisance.

Age UK, the Local Government Association and the NHS Confederation formed the commission in the wake of the health service ombudsman’s damning 2011 report into the care of older people in hospital. The commission’s report is based on a consultation that involved more than 230 organisations and individuals.

The three organisations now intend to design a long-term action plan that will be published in the autumn.

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