Widespread neglect found in English care homes

A national survey of care home staff by UCL researchers has found evidence of widespread resident neglect.

In what UCL claimed to be the largest ever poll of care home staff, some form of neglect was found in 91 of 92 homes.

Dr Claudia Cooper (UCL Psychiatry), the study’s lead author, said: “We found low rates of verbal and physical abuse; the abusive behaviours reported were largely matters of neglect.

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“These behaviours were most common in care homes that also had high rates of staff burnout, which suggests it’s a consequence of staff who are under pressure and unable to provide the level of care they would like to offer.”

The 1,544 respondents to the survey were asked if they had witnessed a range of positive and negative behaviours over the past three months.

The most common incidents of neglect were: making a resident wait for care (26%); avoiding a resident with challenging behaviour (25%); giving residents insufficient time for food (19%); and taking insufficient care when moving residents (11%). Verbal abuse was reported by 5% of respondents, and physical abuse by 1.1%.

Positive behaviours were reported to be much more common than abusive behaviours but time consuming behaviours were less in evidence.

More than one in three care home staff said they were rarely aware of a resident being taken outside of the home for their enjoyment, and 15% said activities were almost never planned around a resident’s interests.

“Most care homes, and their staff, strive to provide person-centred care, meaning that care is designed around a person’s needs, which requires getting to know the resident and their desires and values,” co-author Dr Penny Rapaport said.

“But due to resources and organisational realities, care can often become more task-focused, despite intentions and aspirations to deliver person-centred care.

“Carers can’t just be told that care should be person-centred – they need to be given the support and training that will enable them to deliver it.”

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