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Raising the voices of people too seldom heard – ‘the social care crisis is a dementia crisis’

Blog Post by Des Kelly OBE, R&RA Trustee

25 May 2018: The report published this week by the Alzheimer’s Society ‘Dementia – the true cost: fixing the care crisis’ has a refreshing emphasis on action rather than analysis.

The report seeks to ‘turn up the volume of the voices of people affected by dementia who rely on health and social care support’ – and I’m sure a great many people will welcome this more strident approach.

In the UK some two thirds of people receiving home care along with 70% of people in care homes live with some form of dementia. There can be little doubt therefore that “the social care crisis is a dementia crisis.” In this new report, which covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Alzheimer’s Society calls for action in three key areas:

  • The cost of care given dementia is a health condition
  • The quality of care including the importance of training for health and care workers
  • The use of care navigators to support people to receive timely, preventative and integrated support.

I really hope that we are beginning to witness a growing trend to raising the voices of those who rely on care and support

The commentary which underpins the report, and especially the voices of people who rely on support, are all too familiar to the Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) as they chime with so many of the calls to the charity helpline. Relatives often worry about costs, a lack of fairness, access to services and express concerns about quality.

R&RA is encouraged to see the focus on the importance of training as, in our experience, issues of quality are so often directly related to a lack of training or structured staff development. It is our view that training for social care staff should be both mandatory and enhanced by a career structure linked to nationally recognised qualifications and subject to some system of regulation. Given the turnover rates which prevail within the care sector it is vital that there are regular learning and training opportunities both for new staff and those needing to update their knowledge and skills.

Alzheimer’s Society make their recommendations for action on a country by country basis across the UK and I’m pleased to see reference to the Proposals Paper I co-authored (with John Kennedy) for the Department of Health in Northern Ireland because the essence of ‘Power to People’ is the view that the citizen should be at the very heart of care and support services – those receiving services and their families. Good provision of social care about people and relationships not structures or systems. Giving a voice to people seldom heard is crucial and I really hope that we are beginning to witness a growing trend to raising the voices of those who rely on care and support. Are those writing the forthcoming Green Paper actively listening I wonder?

Des Kelly OBE

25 May 2018


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