Month: July 2017

Opera: Can it be used in care?

A number of care homes have opened their doors to the first opera written for the care sector, as reported by the Guardian.

“Six characters in search of an opera”, written by Rachel Barnett is being performed across the South West in care homes, dementia units, day centres and hospices.

The play was commissioned by Davina’s Fund, a charity aiming to bring opera to older people who cannot experience it themselves.

Set up in memory of Camilla Vickers mother, Davina, Camilla saw the effect opera had on her dying mother:

“I could see that my mother felt better, happier, and I, as her carer, did too. It lifted her spirits hugely and there was a lightness to the house again.”

Annie Stevenson, a member of the National Activity Providers Association has commended the play:

“It should be more than bingo or one size fits all activities, and hoping that volunteers come in and do something, which might not be very good. It’s always well intentioned but often activities can be very patronising.

“Professional musicians lift the spirits of the staff as well. They bring so much energy and it’s so powerful for everyone. It’s emotional and can really touch resident’s souls and uplift them. The CQC don’t measure things like that.”

At a particular care home in Dorset (the Old Vicarage), according to the Guardian the audience were said to be enthralled, swaying and conducting with their hands.

The room, full of residents and staff alike was “singing along with smiles on their faces”.

Edna Martin, a 100 year old resident said:

“I really think everyone enjoyed themselves. I used to do a lot of singing, so anything that involves music is up my street. I really have enjoyed this afternoon. It’s been many years since I have been to the opera.”

Although the Old Vicarage proves how successful such activities can be, it is a private care home, and many may not have the resources available to replicate its success.

Jan Millward, the care home’s activity coordinator believes, “There are a lot of people up against it and only have 8p a day to do activities with.”

She’s also called for the CQC to ask more questions and demand better activity provision from homes, “It’s the only way we’re going to get change, because managers really care about their CQC ratings as it effects their bottom line.”

She goes on to say, looking around at all the smiling faces, “This is care at its best, really. The residents are all smiling and happy. That buzz will last, even those with dementia who’ll likely forget the performance, won’t lose how it made them feel.”

The New £10 Note

Yesterday, Tuesday 18th July 2017, saw the unveiling of the new £10 note.

The note, next in the series from the polymer £5 note, features a portrait of Jane Austen and is due to enter circulation on Thursday 14th September 2017.

Along with the note, a limited number of the new £2 coin, also featuring Jane Austen, are also being circulated.

Despite a petition, with over 100,000 signatures, the new polymer note will be made from the same material as the £5 note (containing animal fats), sparking fury amongst vegan and religious groups.

The smaller note, commemorating 200 years since the death of Jane Austen, features the quote “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor explains the choice: “It captures much of Jane Austen’s spirit, at least in my mind. It draws out some of the essence of some of her social satire and her insight into people’s character. So it works on multiple levels.”

The new polymer £20 note is set to be issued by 2020.

Security features:

– A transparent window featuring the Queen’s portrait.
– On the front of the note, Winchester Cathedral is in gold foil, and silver foil on the back.
– A quill that changes from purple to orange.
– A hologram that when tilted, changes from “Ten” to “Pounds”.
– A 3D hologram of the coronation crown that changes to multicoloured when tilted.
– A copper foil book that has the letters JA.
– Micro letters beneath the Queen’s portrait.
– “Bank of England” printed in raised ink along the top of the note.

There is also a feature that will aid visually impaired people; Raised dots in the top left hand corner of the note, that were developed with the help of the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

In May, the Bank of Scotland unveiled their new £10 note design featuring Sir Walter Scott alongside the Mound in Edinburgh on the front, and on the back the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It also features a steam locomotive and is due to be circulated in the autumn.

The new £10 notes are expected to last five years, double the current life expectancy of two and a half years.

Are Care Homes Getting It Right?

In a world where the elderly are living longer, are their basic needs really covered when it comes to their care?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) are the main regulators when it comes to social care. They examine care homes, giving vital feedback to help those under par, improve their services.

Last week, it was revealed in the Guardian that one in three care homes has failed CQC inspections; not something you want to read if your loved ones are in care.

Overall, the CQC report highlights how fragile our care services are. Promisingly, the message was that the majority of care was good, but understandably, this seems to have been lost amongst the worrying statistics.

Some are improving. Some aren’t. And some are going backwards.

Although these examinations are of great importance, does anyone ask those receiving the care what they think? What the CQC measures, may not be important to those in the system.

Over the past year, Healthwatch have visited over 200 care homes, asking for relatives, residents and staff to share their opinions and aid the debate.

Looking at the initial results, they reported there are no huge scandals. The majority of people are happy with the care they receive, but staff are feeling the pressure.

But looking further, it’s the basics that care homes are failing on.

Residents want clean spaces, and to be made to feel at home. They want to choose what to wear in the morning, and eat at a “normal” regular time.

Although the CQC don’t examine these basics, these simple gripes are clues to the wider picture. They suggest that if care homes, even the best, asked their residents what they want, they could improve their services dramatically.

Despite this, social care providers are still reluctant to take such feedback on board.

In a recent poll of the 152 local Healthwatches in England, two thirds have reported that health providers are seeking feedback from them. Compare this to the one third of social care providers, and the 25% of providers that do not even respond, and we begin to see an opportunity being missed (The Guardian).

Listening to feedback, and using it to make changes, will help make people feel more valued, and help care homes become just that; homes.

 

Doctors Beg For NHS Treatments

Rationing of services is leading Doctors to beg the NHS for vital treatments.

As reported by the Guardian today, in 2016-17, the British Medical Journal found that 73,927 requests were made by GPs on behalf of patients that had initially been denied treatment, 50% more than in 2013-14.

The results have sparked worry amongst healthcare professionals that the cutbacks are now stretching into patient care.

Amongst the requests submitted, mental health conditions were the sixth commonest. Although the NHS vowed to improve access to care, 1150 requests from health professionals still had to be submitted to get patients the care they needed.

Similarly, the number of Individual Funding Requests (IFRs) for hip and knee replacements across England rose from 49 to 899 last year:

“Hip and knee replacements are some of the most clinically effective and economical treatments available on the NHS. Unfortunately, patients needing hip and knee surgery have misguidedly become soft targets for NHS savings”, Stephen Cannon, Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).

Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee has said that “an open and honest” conversation is needed as different Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have different rules on treatments for patients:

“It’s clearly unfair for patients to be subjected to this postcode rationing, and it also adds further to GPs’ workloads as they are called on to provide more and more evidence to support each application.”

Some CCGs such as Stafford and Surrounds, receiving 2123, accept all requests, whereas some such as South Derbyshire, who received 14, accept none.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour Shadow Health Secretary has said, “Underfunding and neglect of the health service is causing misery for patients and making it harder to access routine treatments on the NHS. Behind every one of these statistics is a patient and their family waiting longer in pain and suffering”.

Ruth Robertson from the Kings Fund states, “With financial pressures growing, we can only expect to see more of this. It is unrealistic to expect the NHS to maintain the current level of service, with the current budget, and so the government needs to either find more money for the NHS, or be honest with the public about what sort of healthcare is can expect in the future.”