Hello everyone, welcome to my latest blog post. It maybe a little longer than usual, but these are thoughts I have to share with you. 

Those of you who read these posts regularly will know that I try to keep a positive and optimistic vein running through them. I have to tell you though, right now, that’s a real challenge! 

The care home sector is going through an unbelievably tough time. The COVID-19 pandemic hit society hard, and none of us were prepared for it. Unfortunately care home residents were particularly affected. I think it exposed how little those in authority really knew about the provision of care in our homes, ie, what we do for our residents on a day-to-day basis.  

We have been neglected by government. We felt that here at Hill House and Three Corners, yet I know that other care homes have suffered even more than us. When the outbreak first hit there was limited guidance for managing COVID-19 in our care homes. We tried to keep one step ahead and were praised for our efforts by those who monitor us, but the accumulative effect of lack of guidance and funding has taken its toll. 

The truth is that social care in England has been in crisis for a long time, and we are forever trying to paper over the cracks and plaster the wounds. There have been promises of reform and change, for many years, but none have come to fruition. There is no real joined-up health and social care plan, which causes day to day challenges and sometimes real heartbreak for our older people and their families.  

Whether it’s the effect of Covid alone, or maybe Brexit, or maybe the rules about staff having vaccinations, or more likely a combination of many things, one of the real problem areas now is staffing and recruitment.  I feel that if something is not done imminently to support and promote recruitment in the care setting, we will see more and more staff leave the service. That realty hurts, not just because it causes us constant difficulties in managing our homes, but because it’s not nice to see hard working and dedicated staff, especially those we have been lucky enough to have at Hill House and Three Corners, forced into thinking about quitting as the demands of the job overcome their love for it.   

I have always praised my staff, and I always will. They are so hard working, and it isn’t fair on them. 

We’ve had recent outbreaks at Hill House and I’ve found myself working the floor to help other staff cope. We’ve lost 8 staff in all. We are at our lowest occupancy since we took over the homes, due to the rule that if a home gets 2 or more positive cases in a 14-day period you are classed as being in ‘an outbreak’ and cannot admit anyone new. That causes all sorts of side issues, like huge backlogs in hospitals, that right now are begging us to take people, but we can’t, because of the restrictions imposed.  It’s because there is no proper system in place, they just push and pull at either end, resulting in our older and more vulnerable people being caught in the middle. 

We struggle on, and it is a real struggle right now. Internal development is largely on hold, though we are starting to work on the new lounge at Hill House. There are also plans to develop Hill House with an extension of another 10 rooms. That should be a really positive thing but all of us are preoccupied with the current crisis.  Staff-wise, over at Three Corners, we have a new deputy, with the old deputy now becoming nurse manager at Hill House. The Hill House night nurse is now our new clinical lead, which at least shows we are still doing all we can to be proactive and recruit in-house. Striving to support career progression and development has always been important to us, it’s just we really need help with numbers. 

So, I wanted to give you a flavour of what it’s really like. We desperately need those in authority to support us, otherwise everyone in our sector is going to struggle to give the quality of care our people deserve. Individually our team will do their absolute best, they always do, but we are not afraid to ask for help and support. We need it!