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Caring Times Christmas Lunch 2021

09 Dec 2021

The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London


By guest blogger JEF SMITH

By guest blogger JEF?SMITH If a stranger saunters unannounced into your care home, asks the receptionist for a brochure and peruses the notice with your latest inspection rating, it might just possibly be me. When I’m in an unfamiliar area with an hour to spare and I spot a building offering residential accommodation for older people, I can’t resist dropping in to view an example of what, on one not-so-distant day, I might be visiting not just casually but to prepare for the rest of my life.

If there doesn’t seem to be too much going on – I’m sensitive to pressures and I don’t want to detract from more urgent priorities – I ask for a tour. I own up to having a professional interest in social care, but any alert manager can see that, although not perhaps an imminent candidate for admission myself, I probably have several friends with disabilities sufficiently serious for them to be needing professional support now or very soon. In short, I’m not a bad business prospect.

One of the key elements I watch for is how the presence of a visitor effects the interaction between staff and residents. If we come across someone in a corridor who requires help with, say, calling a lift or navigating a corner, do their immediate needs trump mine, as certainly they should? If there’s a pause for a conversation, am I introduced or is the resident left to regard me as just one more suspicious intruder into their living space? Is the greeting to each resident we pass no more than a routine ‘You alright?’, or is it something more personal – last night’s football, an upcoming TV programme, an enquiry about a family member?

For me, such details will be critical when my time as a resident comes. The much vaunted value of personalisation incorporates important organisational elements like individual budgets and end of life care plans, but it must also include the moment-by-moment way I’m addressed and respected. Anything less is impersonal, or worse, depersonalising. I don’t work for CQC but when it comes to old age I’m becoming an expert by experience.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

One Reply to “Impersonalisation?”

  1. What planet is this blogger living on?! He says ‘If there doesn’t seem to be too much going on’ – well if there isn’t much ‘going on’ then, he can’t be in a care home! Staff will be professional enough to be friendly and calm with visitors but you can bet they are trying to deal with several things at once all through their shift. And why on earth should staff introduce him to the people who actually live there? If someone drops in just to have a tour, with no intention of placing a relative or themselves in the home, they certainly are a ‘suspicious intruder’, just wanting to gawp at the residents and feel superior to the staff. How insulting to suggest that any care home manager is anything other than ‘alert’. And there is a big difference between a person whose physical and mental health means they need to live in a fully supported environment and someone who is just experiencing ‘old age’.

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