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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Working with Older People, Volume 16, Issue 3
How many more national reports and documentaries do we need to tell us that the quality of care provided to many older people is not good enough? At the time of writing this report the most recent was a Panorama programme which used a hidden camera to record the appalling care received by Jane Worroll a lady with dementia living in a care home. I hope that by the time this journal is published there have not been more stories or reports on poor care. Other reports on poor care have included: the NHS Ombudsman Report (2011) which criticized the treatment of elderly people in the NHS, the Patients’ Association Report (November 2011) “We have been listening have you been learning” and the Care Quality Commission report on inspections (October 2011) which found 50 percent of those inspected did not meet standards of care for older people. These reports on the quality of care experienced by older people are important and should continue to shock and appall us but why does it continue year after year? What is the cause of this crisis in compassion, if that is what it is? Thomas Strandberg et al. in their article, “Promoting empathy in social care for older people” found that care workers in Sweden got greater job satisfaction when they were able to be empathetic in caring for older people but a lack of time, care workers’ own needs and inflexible systems often got in the way of achieving this.
John Mcknight and Peter Block in their book The Abundant Community say that “care is from the heart and cannot be bought”. It is fortunate that most people who work in the care sector genuinely do want to care and to be empathetic as Strandberg suggests. How can we learn from the reports and documentaries and improve the experiences of older people in care? The Care Quality Commission has been held responsible by some for approving providers who are then found to provide poor services. This raises the question of whether or not good care can be regulated. An organisation can invest time and money in complying with standards and still provide poor care as we have seen. Human qualities of judgment, empathy and personal responsibility are down to individuals. Staff who are working in a culture of bullying, where they do not feel a sense of control or feel valued are more likely to express this in the care that they provide to others. Articles previously published in this journal Stephen Gethin-Jones “Outcomes and well-being” (Vol. 16 No. 1 and Vol. 16 No. 2, 2012) and Duff and Hurtley “Challenges facing domiciliary care agencies delivering person-centred care” (Vol. 12 No. 2, 2012) describe how a person-centred approach results in better outcomes for older people and greater job satisfaction for staff.
The theme of personalisation is continued in this issue with an article by Clive Newton exploring a personalised approach to social rehabilitation.
There are two articles in this issue on living with dementia. Claire Ford shares her experience and learning as a result of a Winston Churchill Fellowship study in the USA, on the benefits experienced by people with dementia engaging in creative activity.
Edana Minghella and Kate Schneider’s “Rethinking a framework for dementia 1: a journey”, describes a six phase journey based on a set of values informed by people who are living with dementia and their carers. This is part one of two, the second article to be published in Vol. 16 No. 4 describes the implications of this framework for practice.
Also in this issue is a very interesting article by Malcolm Small that gives an insight into the entrepreneurial activity of older people. A significant number of older people 50 years of age and over are working as entrepreneurs setting up businesses and working independently. Small explains that older people often have the skills, experience and confidence to do this. Redundancy is not necessarily the reason for this move but may be a catalyst for change. Small sets out why older people choose to become entrepreneurs.
Marc Mordey and his mother June have written the book review for this issue on The Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body from Rusting by Marie de Hennezel. It is interesting to get the views of two generations on the topic of ageing. I missed the serialization of this book on radio four but will be reading a copy after reading this review. Marc says that the title of this book comes from the Japanese Island of Okinawa where they have a saying Tusai ya Takara which means “the elderly are our treasure”. I hope that we can start to see and value our treasure and end the ill treatment and abuse of older people.