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Why Closing All Care Homes Within 50 Years is a Bad Idea

Care sector professionals were left open-mouthed by comments made by the new NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens. He claimed that he would feel disappointed if there were still nursing homes around in half a century.

Care home providers have now called on Mr Stevens to visit homes in order to gain a better understanding of the services they provide and the invaluable role they play in the lives of thousands of older people. Far from being seen as a last-chance saloon, modern care and nursing homes look after countless men and women in Britain who want to take advantage of superior personal care packages and outstanding services and activity programmes.

Kingswood Court Care Home

Caring for Community Needs

Many professionals believe that the NHS boss claims that people should be cared for at home does not consider factors such as loneliness and the sense of community provided by care and nursing homes. It also fails to follow government policy, which is supposed to promote individual care choices and control.

Mr Stevens made his controversial comments at the Age UK For Later Life conference. He claimed that more needed to be done to prevent people having to live in care homes and said he wanted nursing homes to become completely defunct in as little as 30 years, but in 50 years at the most.

He said many older people were being admitted to hospitals and then discharged to care homes because of failings in the way primary care and community nursing are delivered. There is undoubtedly a need for good-quality domiciliary care, but older people deserve the right to choose where they want to be cared for. Certainly, there are many older people who choose to fund residential and nursing home care themselves because this is the environment in which they want to live. They want to know that help and support is always on hand should they need it and live in a pleasant community which often boasts everything from gardens to shopping facilities.

TB Comments Cause Confusion

Mr Stevens likened nursing homes to hospital beds for TB patients in the past, and this has confused many people within the sector who fail to understand the comparison, especially at a time when care homes have never been better. Many homes are now more like supportive luxury hotels than residential homes, offering fine eateries, entertaining activities and huge amounts of engagement with the wider local community.

Mr Stevens had claimed that more research into dementia, better technology and more social and family support would ultimately allow more people to stay in their homes in the future.

He also pledged that future NHS services for older people would concentrate on combining local treatment options with quick and easy access to medical centres of excellence. He also called for an end to the term bed blocker, claiming it was ageist and offensive to older people.

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