I submitted the entry below on 6 or 7 January. However, I did not receive an acknowledgement. Also, my entry does not appear when I browse the entries. There are only four entries listed for Question 1 and two for Question 2. I should be grateful if you could acknowledge my entry. Thank you.
Elderly residents of care homes have been casualties of the pandemic often through no fault of the care homes themselves. However, some care homes have clearly failed their residents which is a reminder that there are serious endemic problems that should be addressed. All too often, incidents are reported which have occurred in homes that have received recent good inspection reviews. Many failings can be covered up during inspections such as issues of the attitudes and behaviour of staff. Residents and their relatives are either unable to articulate such issues or are afraid to do so.
A positive feature of the pandemic has been the overwhelming concern shown by so many people for those who are suffering because of their poverty, age, loneliness or other circumstances. Many people, including retired medical professionals, have volunteered to help in a plethora of ways. One challenge, when the pandemic is over, will be to maintain the enthusiasm of such people to volunteer their services.
Whilst occasional visitors to care homes do sometimes notice unacceptable situations, they may not feel confident to address them. Ideally, there would be designated visitors who, whilst visiting at random times, would have a formal role to observe critically and to report regularly to inspectors as well as to managers. Retired professionals from the medical profession and also from other professions such as education, law and public service may be suitable for this role. They would have worked in situations where they were subject to similar regulations and would have the confidence to address unacceptable issues. Unlike inspectors, they would visit at random times and talk to residents in a more relaxed environment, so they could learn more about how the organisation’s regime impacts on them as people.
Care homes for the elderly are not the only institutions that could benefit from this approach. The memory of the Winterbourne View hospital abuse scandal nearly a decade ago is still raw and few people would be confident that such situations are not still happening somewhere in the care sector.
The momentum of genuine concern that has been generated during the pandemic must not be dissipated at its end. There is, perhaps, a once in a lifetime chance to match a major resource with a pressing need.