William Eichler 22 March 2018

Neglect common in care homes due to staff ‘burnout’

The largest-ever survey of care home staff in England has found that neglectful behaviours are widespread due to staff ‘burnout’.

The poll, conducted by University College London researchers, found 26% of staff anonymously reported making a resident wait for care or being aware of someone who had done this.

Another quarter of the 1,544 respondents, who work in 92 care homes across England, said they — or someone they knew — had avoided a resident with challenging behaviour.

‘We found low rates of verbal and physical abuse; the abusive behaviours reported were largely matters of neglect,’ said Dr Claudia Cooper, the study’s lead author.

‘These behaviours were most common in care homes that also had high rates of staff burnout, which suggests it’s a consequence of staff who are under pressure and unable to provide the level of care they would like to offer.’

The survey also found that 19% of respondents admitted they or a colleague had given residents insufficient time for food, and 11% reported cases where insufficient care had been taken when moving residents.

Verbal abuse was reported by 5% of respondents, and physical abuse by 1.1%.

Overall, at least some abuse was identified in 91 of the 92 care homes.

‘Most care homes, and their staff, strive to provide person-centred care, meaning that care is designed around a person’s needs, which requires getting to know the resident and their desires and values,’ said co-author Dr Penny Rapaport.

‘But due to resources and organisational realities, care can often become more task-focused, despite intentions and aspirations to deliver person-centred care.

‘Carers can’t just be told that care should be person-centred — they need to be given the support and training that will enable them to deliver it.’

Responding to the survey, a Local Government Association (LGA) spokesperson said: ‘Any form of abuse is unacceptable and we all have a role to ensure that every member of our community is able to live safe, dignified and happy lives wherever they live.

‘We would encourage people to flag any neglect or abuse in order to make sure that vulnerable adults in their communities are protected.’

The LGA spokesperson said the Government should ensure adult social care is fully funded. This would enable councils, they said, to ‘continue their safeguarding work to the highest standard’.

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