A new “futures” report, published by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), argues that the care home of the future must become a ‘community hub’, delivering a range of services under one roof or in closely integrated neighbourhoods.
Launching the report, Baroness Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK said:
“Our report highlights how care homes have improved over 40 years. Economic, environmental and demographic change will put increased pressure on the sector, as will the need to meet the increasing demands of the older consumer.
The care home of the future must be situated within the community it serves. Care homes should be considered less as a series of physical buildings and more as a model for delivering specialist care within a wider community. Funding models for the care home of the future must help facilitate this new community hub.
We need a public debate on what the care home of the future should look like and how we can all work together to deliver this vision.”
Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for Care Services added
“The care home has a future. I’ve always seen residential care as part of the mix in some people’s care journey. At its heart the care home of the future will be the idea of ‘home’. A place where relationships matter. A place open and outward looking, part of the community not closed, isolated and institutionalising. These ideas are part of the agenda for transformation I set out in the Care and Support White Paper last week.”
Mike Parsons, Chief Executive and founder of Barchester Healthcare added:
“This year marks Barchester Healthcare’s twentieth anniversary. The care home has changed significantly since we launched our first home 20 years ago. The sector has adapted to many of the challenges highlighted in the ILC-UK report over the last 20 years. But we cannot be complacent. Societal change means the sector will need to continue to change to meet new challenges. Identifying and meeting local needs and engaging with communities local to our homes has always been a vital element of our approach to care homes. We take pride in our position at the forefront of the design of the care home of the future, which will continue to play a vital role in the delivery of care for older people and increasingly act as a hub for community support and the strengthening of community links.”
In the report, ‘Care Home Sweet Home’, supported by Barchester Healthcare, ILC-UK highlight the very significant challenges facing the care home sector over the next ten years including:
- better engaging the community with care homes
- making the most of the potential of new technology
- finding a sustainable funding model for care which ensures that the care home can deliver quality personalised services
- creating an informed care consumer
- protecting vulnerable adults without over-regulating and thus stifling innovation
- ‘chronic difficulties’ in the recruitment and retention of care home staff
- ensuring environmental sustainability through, for example, better management of the consumption of energy and water
- making the care home a real community hub
- tackling societal ageism
The ILC-UK report considers how demographic, economic, technological, environmental and social change will impact on the care home sector. It explores how care homes of the future will fit in to the continuum of care, and how they can develop their services flexibly in order to respond to the changing aspirations and needs of 21st century consumers.
Publishing the report, ILC-UK set out recommendations for Government, the care home sector and the community as a whole. ILC-UK argue that:
Government will need to:
- develop a funding system to adequately fund the care home of the future
- ensure that funding is designed in such a way as to facilitate the development of personalised services
- ensure that any new regulatory approaches to care home management do not inadvertently prevent innovation in care
- find ways of ensuring improved communications between health services (e.g. GPs) and care homes
- support innovative initiatives to fund energy conservation and the development of renewable energy in the care home sector.
The care home sector will need to:
- better market itself as a good career option for young and old
- recognise the challenge of personalisation and find ways of better delivering a unique personalised service to the individual
- reach out to the community
- wisely introduce new usable and/or ambient technology to improve service delivery.
The community as a whole will need to:
- address endemic ageism, which creates a negative image of care and of older people
- debate the ethical issues associated with an increased use of technology in care homes
- find ways of using the care home as a hub
- become more informed and more demanding consumers of care
- introduce innovative ways of encouraging volunteering within care homes.
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