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What is the minimum care and residential homes should be doing to ensure your loved one is well cared for?

As part of Hudgell Solicitors ‘Give Me Dignity’ campaign to challenge poor care of the elderly, we are encouraging families and relatives to question the care provided to their loved ones if they feel it is not to the standard expected or required.

With close to 3,000 care homes across England rated as either ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ by independent inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), relatives sadly cannot always be assured of good care.

It is therefore essential for relatives to be aware of the basic standards which can be expected of all residential and care homes to ensure residents are well looked after.

The following are minimum standards of care which should be met by all facilities.

Care and residential homes must;

  • Follow a detailed care plan, individually tailored to your relative

Good quality care cannot be provided without a dedicated care plan which has been devised specifically around your relative’s own personal needs.
This should include detailed risk assessments covering all aspects of their care, from managing the risk of falls to any special dietary requirements.
Homes should provide all staff with a clear description and guidance on the support needed, day and night.
As a relative, if you have not seen a care plan for your loved one, ask to review it and check that it is suitable.

  • Ensure a healthy diet and that residents are hydrated and safe at meal times

In a recent review of care home performances carried out by our specialists at Hudgell Solicitors, we were concerned by the number of homes where inspectors from the CQC were critical of meal times, and a lack of drinks available residents.
Many were badly managed, meals were of a poor standard and residents who should have been supported due to the danger of choking were left unsupervised. Some were being served solid foods when they should have been liquidised – clearly neglectful and dangerous care.
Many residents were not being encouraged to complete meals and water was often left out of reach, leaving them without a drink accessible for long periods.
Good homes were providing high-quality meals, and assisting residents to ensure they had adequate amounts of food and water.

  • Take steps to prevent pressure sores and ulcers from developing

It should not be accepted that pressure sores and ulcers will develop simply because somebody is unable to move themselves and confined to beds or chairs for the majority of their time.
The vast majority of ulcers are avoidable with the correct care, regular turning and the use of specific mattresses and cushions.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines say a pressure ulcer risk assessment (the Waterlow Scale) should be carried out within six hours of admission for an elderly resident, so those at risk or high risk of developing pressure ulcers can be identified without delay.
This can identify the need for preventative treatment to people at risk.
Ask about the assessment of your loved one, particularly if you are not aware of one having taken place.

If sores do develop, ask immediately what is being done to treat them as they can develop very quickly into seriously painful and life-threatening injuries.
Our neglect claims specialists handle a high amount of pressure sore claims, which can be significant due to the pain and suffering caused.

  • Take measures to prevent injuries and falls

Care and residential homes should be putting measures in place to reduce the risk of falls and injuries and should be asking questions on admission as to whether residents have fallen in the past year, and if so the frequency, context and characteristics of the falls.
Such information can then be used to devise suitable care plans to reduce the likelihood of falling and suffering injury.

It may sound simple, but such an assessment can ensure all staff are aware of which patients are considered at ‘high risk’ and need extra support.

Other measures, such as sensor alarms when residents get out of bed (often crucial at night), or ensuring beds are in their lowest positions and have sides, can also be used to offer greater protection. The location of their rooms can also be a consideration if they are known to wander at night.

As relatives, you know whether your loved one has a history of falls, confusion, or unsteadiness on their feet, so make sure this is communicated to them clearly from the outset and that plans are in place to manage it.

  • Manage medication efficiently

During our recent review of poorly performing care homes, we were shocked by the number of homes which were found to have poor practices over medication management – one of the most important aspects of care provided and errors which can have fatal consequences.

It is paramount that care homes have full knowledge of all medication a resident is taking and has been prescribed on their admission to a home and a full understanding of the dosages required.

There have been many cases where care homes have been found to have failed to properly record medication being given to patients, which can in turn lead to medicines being given either too often or not regularly enough, and periods without medication being given at all. Some homes have been criticised by the CQC for poor medication planning, leading to stocks running out, and for medication being stored inappropriately, leading to possible confusion for staff and residents.

  • Know all about your loved one, from their medication to likes, dislikes, hobbies and their history

It may not seem essential, but how can a home claim to be providing a happy place to live if they don’t take the time and interest to learn about your loved one, what they have done in their life and what they like to do, or talk about now.

In a recent review of the best performing care homes in England, inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted the homes which went out of their way to make residents feel ‘one of the family’, looking to engage with them about their lives and even arrange activities they knew they would enjoy.

Should you have any concerns over the care of your loved one, particularly with regard to any of the specific areas above, contact our team of specialist care home claims lawyers today.

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