OPAAL would like to commend the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales for her ongoing Residential Care Review. Having already had nearly 2000 responses to her Care Home Review Questionnaire the Commissioner, Sarah Rochira, is determined to ensure that those who use residential care services get the opportunity to voice their opinions.
She said recently: “When I launched my Residential Care Review last year, I made it clear that I wanted to give a voice back to older people and their families and for those who run our services to understand the day-to-day realities of living in residential care in Wales. The overwhelming response from across Wales provides a very robust starting point for this and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the questionnaire, as well as those who helped to distribute it on my behalf, for the part they have all played in driving change for older people living in residential care.”
The second phase of the review is due to start in the spring and will involve visits, some unannounced, to 100 care homes throughout Wales. The Commissioner is also making steps to ensure that the voices of those with protected characteristics such as race, sexual orientation, religion or belief are also heard.
All of this is inspiring and is to be commended. We at OPAAL would love to see similar activity in England. Not only do we need an Older People’s Commissioner but also a similar review of residential care. OPAAL members have been raising concerns for years about the situation of older people in some residential care homes. Our own Partnership Development Hub is currently focused on developing the evidence base for the provision of independent advocacy for older people in residential care. Not only is there a need for advocacy support for those already living in residential care but there is also a call to provide such support for those considering moving into residential care.
As a society we know we need to do more to safeguard older people in residential settings. Report after report has highlighted the issues. We want to be able to train and support those working in residential care to understand the benefits of getting independent advocacy involved in their day to day working lives. Not only would it benefit residents but it would also benefit care providers and their staff. Independent advocacy can support registered managers to meet inspection criteria and ensure that voice, choice and control are present for care recipients. It can also give staff an outlet to drive standards up and give much improved job satisfaction.
The time really is NOW! Let’s follow suit.
Marie McWilliams, National Development Officer, OPAAL