Care home neglect and staff burnout
From the summer 2018 issue of our Care and Cure magazine, we look at a study that shows how neglect is common in England's care homes.
Researchers based at University College London carried out the largest ever survey of care home staff in England. Alzheimer’s Society was involved in the partnership that supported this study. Care home staff anonymously reported both their positive and negative behaviours and those of other staff in the last three months. The survey also measured how busy the care home was and how ‘burnt out’ members of staff were. Burnout is a psychological measure of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion.
Care staff reported a small number of incidents of verbal or physical abuse. Reports of neglect were more common. These included making a person wait for care, avoiding people with behaviour that they found challenging, not giving enough time for eating and showing lack of care when moving a person. Neglect was most common in homes where staff had the highest levels of burnout. This suggests that care staff who are under the greatest pressure are unable to provide the level of care that they would like.
Under the Care Act 2014, local authorities and care providers have a responsibility to protect and support people’s needs. However due to numerous cuts to budgets over the years, the reality of care provided can be far from adequate.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘70% of people living in care homes have dementia, and it’s clear from these findings that they’re bearing the brunt of a chronically underfunded social care system.
‘By 2021, a million people in the UK will have dementia. The government must act now, with meaningful investment and reform, or we risk the system collapsing completely and people with dementia continuing to suffer needlessly.’
On the brighter side, this study also highlighted that the majority of staff care deeply about the people they support. They reported that they took time to get to know people in their care and enjoyed spending time with them. However, under so much pressure, even the best care home staff can be unable to provide the right support for everyone. This study provides strong evidence of the need for better training, support and wages for care home staff.