Work has begun to improve the quality of privately operated care homes after adult social care chiefs admitted “Barnsley isn’t where we would like it to be”.
Numbers of homes in the town rated as ‘good’ or better during inspections have increased by 20 per cent since the Spring of last year, but the overall quality of homes still lags behind the national average.
Councillors who site on the authority’s scrutiny board, which monitors performance of different services, were told by council officer Adrian Hobson “We are striving to increase that. We are looking at measures to put in place to achieve that,” he said.
Lenny Sahota, the council’s service director for adult social care, told the meeting: “We are visiting homes on a regular basis to make sure the services being delivered are in line the with specifications we have put in place.
“It is very much about working in partnership with the care homes, to offer the support they need to raise quality.
“All recent inspections of care homes are being looked at, to see which areas they fall short in.
“We will be developing a programme for care homes to ask what we can put in to help raise standards in that particular area,” he said.
Council officials also want to work with care homes to ensure that staff are developed properly and retained within the industry, with an acknowledgement that in some cases when a supermarket opens near an existing care home some staff will migrate to work there, possibly influenced by better wages.
The meeting also heard that numbers of homes offering nursing care had reduced in Barnsley, with businesses experiencing problems recruiting the nurses they need to offer the service.
The problem exists nationally and in some areas is blamed as a contributor to ‘bed blocking’, where patients cannot be discharged from hospital. The situation in Barnsley is not deemed so serious and one home was also planning to re-introduce nursing beds, which would help tip the figures back upwards, councillors heard.
Concerns around exploitation were also examined, with a belief that financial abuse cases go under-reported because of a reluctance among some victims to ask for help.
That could be because because those involved were family members or friends providing the care they relied upon, or because they were embarrassed about admitting they had been hoodwinked into parting with money.
Cases of ‘cuckooing’, where criminals ‘befriend’ a victim before taking advantage of them and using their home, are also known to exist.
But a challenge for the authorities in those cases is that if a victim is deemed to have mental capacity, they can only offer to step in and help if the victim agrees.