Care Home Death Statistics
Recent data released by the Office for National Statistics reveals that over the past five years, over 1000 care home residents have died after experiencing malnutrition, dehydration or bedsores.
The data, which was revealed by The Guardian newspaper, noted that 1,463 NHS, local authority and private care home residents in England and Wales had one of the conditions marked on their death certificates.
The ONS said the data did not necessarily mean that poor care caused the deaths but added it could have been a factor in some.
How can this be happening?
Of course, any care home death is a tragedy, but 1,463 deaths over five years in Care Homes, where vulnerable people are supposed to be cared for, is a shocking statistic. But stark statistics often drown out the story of what is really happening, people latch on to the figures and draw their own conclusions – which might not always be a true reflection of how things are. Perhaps this is a clarion call for us to be delving deeper into the reasons, circumstances and context for this failure of care.
In our role as Business Support specialists for care providers, we regularly see up close the problems faced in the day to day running of care homes.
One of the biggest problems care homes face is attracting and retaining staff. Given that the average pay rate for a Care Worker in England is £7.36 per hour, this is hardly surprising. Care Home owners are competing with the more attractive wages offered by supermarkets and giant online delivery warehouses, and quite simply staff vote with their feet. Add to that the fact that a large majority of care workers, including one in every two Registered Managers according to research by Skills for Care, are in the over 50 age bracket – not too far away from retirement age. A further recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research predicted a shortage of over 400,000 care workers by 2028. So it looks like the perfect storm of circumstance is conspiring to deliver a real blow to social care, unless real, workable and realistically financed solutions are found.
Faced with such poor financial reward for what is a deeply important and valuable role, means even with the most dedicated, committed staff, turnover is hard to avoid. This has inevitable knock on effects, continuity of care is disrupted, training is on a continuous loop as staff come and go, key relationships between residents and care staff are broken, staff teams fail to consolidate because they’re always in a state of flux – of course all these factors have a damaging impact on the quality of care provided. Care Homes that are understaffed have fewer people to care for residents – it’s not rocket science to work out that this could have detrimental influences on the level of attentiveness and person-centred care delivered. Fair pay and conditions and a recognition of their professional standing, as campaigned for by NACAS, would go a long way in fixing the staffing crisis in care.
When staff turnover is high, you are constantly taking time out to train and re-train workers. Staff inductions take time and energy to carry out and new staff always need to be closely supervised – again, quite hard to manage when chronically understaffed.
So, in the shadow of these bleak statistics, we’d like to offer up a glimmer of light to help out care workers when looking after residents. Something to support them in delivering person-centred, sensitive care that will help to reduce instances of malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores and other avoidable conditions.
Help is at hand
Insequa has developed I AM SMART, a preventative assessment tool aimed at helping care staff notice, record and report changes from the norm for Service Users. It helps care staff to record any changes noticed in a Service User’s condition away from their usual state. By regularly recording and sharing with co-workers this detailed information, it helps to monitor the day to day health and condition of residents and flags up warning signs early. Malnutrition, dehydration and bedsores are more likely to be picked up and addressed if the I AM SMART tool is used. We are offering this detailed and expertly drawn up assessment tool totally FREE of charge – click here to find out how to get your copy.