• 02 November 2018
  • 3 min read

Are care homes really places of last resort?

  • Mark Redmond
    Senior Lecturer Health & Social Care, University of Gloucestershire

Due to some high-profile cases of poor management, care homes have developed a poor reputation among the public. Mark Redmond examines what can be done.

Fake news - a care home as created by the media

The cases of great care do not attract the same attention as stories about care going wrong because the media is drawn to negative, not positive stories.

Meanwhile home managers are too busy and not best equipped to effectively communicate with the public and correct this misperception.

So, the perception of care homes as a place of last resort persists.

Members of the public would be forgiven for thinking that the last place an older person should go is in a care home.

Indeed, the plethora of high-profile cases in the media seem to confirm that care homes are places of misery and neglect, full of staff who go out of their way to inflict suffering and pain on those who look to them for basic care and support.

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Care homes are GOOD places to live

Yet whilst these cases do exist they represent a significant minority, and are as rare as being hit by lightning.

Instead, there is great deal to say about care homes that is good. Yes, care homes are one of the best places to live, when older.

Before I list the benefits of care homes I want to say something about what I am not talking about.

First and fore most I am not talking about care homes that are retirement villages. These artificial ghettos that represent the ‘Truman Show’ for those in later life. They do nothing to excite me. They are amongst the last places I would want to be. Nothing is real or natural.

These buildings, which often share the same architecture as motel chains (the only difference being the name plate on the front of the building) represent a seniors’ Hotel California, the place where you might check out any time you like, but from which you can never leave…

We should be celebrating the normal

No. I am talking about the common, average, care home; they exist in most towns and villages and are a part of their local community.

These places, sometimes full of comfortable, if old, furniture and slightly faded mugs are perhaps, the most inviting for me.

The reason being is that they have dropped the fur coat, and gone instead for genuine and authentic.

These are the places where ‘what’s good for you’ includes making sure you eat well with a balanced healthy diet, and where friendship and being active doesn’t come on a prescription.

Living in a care home means not having to worry about bills, shopping or not being able to get out.

If a care home is embedded in the community, and has links with schools, clubs and churches, then staying in can be the new going out, because they come to you.

These homes become not last choice, but first choice: fine places to live (and not simply to die), full of laughter, love and companionship.

For too long we have thought that being locked up and alone in our homes is what we should aspire to.

I accept that faded mugs and a sense of normal homeliness is not headline grabbing. But this is the the far greater reality behind the rare instances given so much more press coverage.

Let’s start celebrating the normal and challenging the myths!

It would go a long way to improving the perception of our care homes and help home managers inspire and motivate their staff.

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About the author

  • Mark Redmond
    Senior Lecturer Health & Social Care, University of Gloucestershire

For more than 30 years Mark has worked across higher education and adult social care in practice, research and consultancy settings. He is passionate about thinking about ‘doing’ social care differently, and creating new structures that maximizes opportunities for all involved in the care exchange.

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  • Mark Redmond
    Senior Lecturer Health & Social Care, University of Gloucestershire

About the author

  • Mark Redmond
    Senior Lecturer Health & Social Care, University of Gloucestershire

For more than 30 years Mark has worked across higher education and adult social care in practice, research and consultancy settings. He is passionate about thinking about ‘doing’ social care differently, and creating new structures that maximizes opportunities for all involved in the care exchange.