How can we instigate the revolution we need in the care sector? After so many negative news stories about the treatment of older people in care homes, it might seem an impossible task.
The good news is that there are many wonderful people out there providing great compassionate care. We need to start learning from these examples and making it the culture we want, rather than just suffering under the current 'blame and shame' agenda.
Giving care is a very human thing. But it is not always easy: ask any parent and they will tell you of the joys as well as the painful lows of caring. When we care for someone it's not a one-way street – neither should it be. This is true whether we are caring for a relative or being paid to care for someone. A relationship develops and we need to have a culture that cherishes that and puts as few obstacles as possible in the way.
One initiative that is trying to do just that is The Big Care Home Conversation - a national campaign by My Home Life, an initiative funded by Age UK, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Dementia UK and City University.
Launched last week in the House of Commons, this movement is encouraging care homes up and down the country to open up in a bid to improve life for older people. Paul Burstow, Minister for Care Services spoke very warmly about the scheme, so people are listening!
This initiative is posing the following questions:
If you are living, working or managing a care home we need your input. My Home Life will send you a great pack of stuff to help you engage with your local community.
If you are just curious about care homes, have a look at the My Home Life website or, even better, pop into your local care home. Introduce yourself and have your say.
At JRHT we are doing our own version of the Big Care Home Conversation. We've already run an event for residents and staff to explore what makes a better life for older people. We hope it will help us to get to the core of what it means to provide the right care for each person we work for – co- produced with them.
You never know, we might even be able to provoke a proper discussion about care. This could lead to a more realistic and honest debate about what it costs in money and emotion. We could even have a go at commissioning and regulating based on the evidence of what actually works!