Care champion

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IT is a growing nightmare for families across the region – how to ensure signified and affordable care for loved ones as their lives draw to a close and when the onset of dementia, or other conditions, means they are even more dependent on others.

The Government’s preferred approach is for the frail and vulnerable to remain in their own home, with the security and familiarity that this entails, for as long as possible.

However this is always not possible. Many people will spend their twilight years in a care home because of their frailty – or because their close relatives live a considerable distance away as a result of society becoming more transient.

Yet, given longstanding concerns about the care sector, illustrated by the systematic abuse that BBC Panorama exposed at the Winterbourne View unit in Bristol, there needs to be an affective way for families to monitor feedback on each home.

With greater consumer awareness, families invariably make online checks about a hotel or holiday destination before they make a booking. Yet they have not been able to do so about care homes, despite an individual’s long-term welfare being the issue at hand.

However, it is to the credit of Emma Challans, a staff member at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who has had the foresight and expertise to create an online ratings site for all UK care homes, and which will go online later this month.

That the feedback will be limited to residents, or their relatives, is another significant advantage – it will help inform families on the suitability of a care home and it should, hopefully, be used as a tool to drive up standards across the industry.

It is a venture that should make a material difference and has the potential, in time, be extended to hospitals. As such, we wish Emma and her team every success.