BBC’s One’s “When I’m 65” Ageing season has taken us several times into the world of the care home, shining a light on those institutions which most of us would go out of our way to avoid. Most of us would prefer to live out our old age in our own homes but for some of us care homes will be where we die. Isn’t it time to re-think how these organisations work and how they can best deliver the sort of care we will all need in the future?
A new “futures” report published today by the International Longevity Centre – UK calls for a public debate on what the care homes of the future should look like, arguing that rather than closed institutions they should become ‘community hubs’, delivering a range of services under one roof or in closely integrated neighbourhoods.
Launching the report, Baroness Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK said: “Our report highlights how care homes have improved over 40 years. Economic, environmental and demographic change will put increased pressure on the sector, as will the need to meet the increasing demands of the older consumer.
The care home of the future must be situated within the community it serves. Care homes should be considered less as a series of physical buildings and more as a model for delivering specialist care within a wider community. Funding models for the care home of the future must help facilitate this new community hub”.
The ILC-UK’s vision is that care homes should :
- Provide world leading quality of care
- Act as a community hub – which works with voluntary agencies and provides services to the whole community
- Make the most of technology – but not as a substitute for the human element of care
- Provide attractive careers for young and old alike – good, professional staff is seen as fundamental to this vision
- Be a beacon of environmental sustainability
Of these elements, I think the “community hub” idea is the most arresting. Up till now care homes have been institutions set apart from the community, often buttressed by leafy parkland. I remember my children being anxious about visiting a local home for their annual carol concert, afraid of what they might see.
Going into a care home, is often seen as “the end”. By bringing the care into the community, a more flexible care model can be used to allow people to remain in their own homes for longer, something that most people want but which is also considerably cheaper.
Which brings us to funding. However much the Government tries to wriggle around the issue, at some point we need to accept that care is expensive and we are going to have to pay, whether through increased taxation or more probably through some sort of direct contribution model. That being the case, we should ensure that as future consumers we are able to buy the care we want and need so as to lead good quality, happy lives. And that requires some future-thinking now.
To read the report, Care Home, Sweet Home in full, CLICK HERE