In my last post I wrote about the proposals for our residential homes and day centres which we took to the Council’s Executive Board last week. Councillors at Executive Board, subjected as you would expect, the proposals to rigorous and constructive questioning before the recommendations were accepted by the Board. It is now likely that the Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Board will be considering what was agreed by Executive Board under their “call in” powers. This means that Councillors on this Scrutiny Board will be able to ask questions and consider the decision made by Executive Board.
I thought Cllr Wakefield, Leader of the Council, made an important point at the Executive Board when he said that whether in one of our homes or in the independent sector, quality of care is the most important consideration. He summed it up when he said would we be happy to place our own relatives in homes in the city.
Quality in residential care was very much on the agenda a few weeks ago when we were visited by Andrea Sutcliffe, who takes up the position of Chief Inspector of Social Care at the Care Quality Commission. She came to meet members of the Residential Governance Advisory Board who have been working on the Quality Framework over the last few years. This framework covers most independent care homes in the city and gives them a higher rate of money from the Council if they can demonstrate higher levels of quality of care. We hope that over time this will in effect develop into a Leeds “standard” to which care homes will be keen to achieve and which, going back to Cllr Wakefield’s point, will help to reassure residents and relatives of those in residential and nursing homes in Leeds that they will get good quality care.
It’s this good quality of care that our Dignity Volunteers are looking out for too. I went out on a visit to an independent residential home in Leeds with two of our Dignity Volunteers recently. Both of them were absolutely passionate about our older people’s right to be able to live their lives with dignity and respect. I went round the home with them as they looked at the standard of rooms, the range of activities on offer, the interaction between staff and residents, and the quality of care given. We talked to residents, to relatives, and to staff. We watched as lunch was served to see how residents and staff reacted. On this occasion, overall a high quality of care was witnessed although our two Dignity Volunteers had some useful suggestions for improvement for the manager of the home. We have around 18 Dignity Volunteers offering their time for free and for that we are very grateful. We also of course have our own in house team who regularly visit all homes we fund across the city to assess the quality of care.
I know from my own experience with my family of finding a home in North Yorkshire for my grandmother, when aged 95, she had fallen, broken a hip and developed dementia, that it is an emotional, worrying and quite frankly guilt inducing time. Trying to work out which home would be the most appropriate for my grandmother was not easy, with to be honest not a lot of information available to help the process. In the end you often make a decision on gut instinct.
I hope that the work we are doing, a fraction of which I’ve talked about here, will help to reassure people that we are taking Cllr. Wakefield’s comment about the quality of care that our older people should expect very seriously.