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UK Dementia Congress 2020

11 Nov 2020

Bournemouth

The challenge of achieving new normality

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

What the “new normal” for care homes will look like when, one day, we’ll begin to refer to the pandemic in the past tense, is, I think, anybody’s guess.

I worry that precautionary infection control measures will become so entrenched that care homes will lose that sense of “home” which hitherto has defined what they are.

Call them “care centres” if you will but I think it’s bad marketing; the word “home” resonates deeply with most of us, even though we must battle constantly with the institutional connotation the term has accreted in our sector. Somehow, operators must find a way of protecting everybody – residents, staff and eventually visitors – without losing all those attributes which make a building a “home”. For residents, we must make the new normal feel very much like the old normal while adopting and adapting procedures which will afford them the greatest protection.

Regular testing must be a key feature of the new normal, at least in the medium term, with perhaps some sort of certification system for visitors. Of course, infection-control must have even greater importance in training, with staff being recognised as being the highly-skilled professionals they are; and if staff are to be retained, and more recruited, they will need to be better rewarded. And whatever the new normal does begin to look like, we must hope that the regulatory bodies do their part in promoting residents’ wellbeing and in sharing best practice.

All this will have to develop in an economic recession and the uncertainty of Brexit while government continues to dither over social care reform. It would be an optimist indeed who can imagine a new normal butterfly emerging from the old normal chrysalis.

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

2 Replies to “The challenge of achieving new normality”

  1. The revolutionary change I’d like to see is for care to have equal status as a sector with the NHS, and for care staff to have equal expectations in relation to training, development, recognition and reward

    1. Equality of esteem with the NHS is just not going to happen. Social care is very much a minority – and in the context of the current crisis – a transient interest. But good luck, nevertheless!

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