Headlines: May 31st, 2007



Thousands of care homes are to undergo improvements such as the provision of internet and e-mail access to their residents following the creation of a 67.75 million pound refurbishment fund by the department of Health. Local authorities have agreed to share the money between 6,949 care homes to meet the Department’s aim of spreading the capital as widely as possible among providers but there has been a warning that there also needs to be investment in the workforce in care homes.

The money is being made available as part of the Government’s campaign to put dignity and respect at the heart of caring for older people. Care Services Minister, Ivan Lewis said the money would support the work of health and social care professionals, the voluntary and independent sectors and carers – both family and paid.

Planned improvements to enhance the quality of life of those being cared for include replacing worn-out carpeting and floor coverings to reduce the risk of falls, upgrading dining rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, encouraging outdoor exercise by improving gardens and other spaces, alteration to give residents more privacy and providing information technology for older residents, including access to internet and email. Allocations to local councils range form just 20,000 pounds for the City of London and the isles of Scilly to almost 1.9 million pounds for Kent.

The initial injection of funding has been welcomed by Annie Stevenson, senior policy adviser at Help the Aged, who said it showed the Government recognised that dignity in care homes was crucial to maintaining health and well being. She was pleased, too, that decision on spending the money would take into consideration the views of care home residents as well as best practice in design

“However, improving the physical environment is only one piece of the jigsaw that delivers dignity and respect for the care of older people,” she said, adding, “It is just as crucial to recognise that investment in the care home sector workforce is also vital to lift its status and to improve morale and potential to meet future needs. Without this, the dignity agenda in this area will wither on the vine.”