- 16 December 2019
- 7 min read
The surprising truth about how the public perceive care homes
Surveying care home managers and the general public reveals unexpected trends in how the industry is viewed.
Overview of what we found out
Our survey of home managers and the public, on perceptions of the care home industry, revealed that home managers are more valued than they think.
We asked over 200 care home managers how they think the public view their industry.
The results reveal the serious concerns that care home managers have about the perceptions of their work, but is this really what the public think?
Read on and discover what we found out...
The perception of the industry is a concern to many
The research revealed that, in general, care home managers are concerned that the public perceive their services to be of a low standard:
The majority of home managers pinned the blame on the way care homes are represented in the media.
Managers believe the public are fearful of care homes because of negative headlines which stem from isolated incidents that don’t represent the industry overall.
Here are some of the responses from the home managers surveyed:
• "The only publicity we ever seem to get is negative"
• "The media are always publishing stories of poor care but hardly ever the good stories"
• "People read one negative story and generalise all care homes as the same. The media are always publishing stories of poor care but hardly ever the good stories"
Data on public perception holds surprises
The care home managers were correct in thinking that some of the public were influenced by the way the industry is represented in the media.
However they underestimated the extent to which the public’s opinions are also influenced by word of mouth, open days and personal experiences.
But then we asked the public what they think of care homes...
When we asked the public what they thought of care homes, the results were surprisingly different to what we heard from the care home managers.
The public had a significantly more positive perspective of the industry:
Public responses support the view of managers: care is generally of a high standard
With less than 10% of the public saying that the level of care they experienced was of a poor or appalling standard, the average level of care quality is high:
With the majority of the public telling us that the care they’ve experienced is either “good” or “excellent”, why do care home managers have an inaccurate view of how the public perceive them?
It's likely that care managers perceptions of the public are swayed more heavily by negative media reports.
Equally, as people are more likely to seek out home managers to make complaints rather give praise, they are also likely to have more negative interactions than positive ones.
Care home managers are exposed to significantly fewer examples of positive feedback and their interpretation of the state of the industry is more pessimistic:
• "Families can complain that the paperwork appears to be more important than the people but don't fully understand the statutory requirements we have to work to and it can be a challenge to get the balance right for everyone"
• "I manage a multi-million pound site. I manage care standards, catering, health and safety, recruitment, HR, sales, marketing, finance, training, maintenance and so on. Other sectors have different managers for each of those areas. Care home managers are multi-faceted and have an extensive range of skills. My care team have to be ready for the unexpected every day from losing someone they had cared for to providing intimate personal care sensitively, yet they are undervalued by the government and society"
Perception where it matters: clients and their families
The research shows that care home managers are in fact viewed highly by the public, especially when it comes to clients and their families who rate the care they receive very highly.
It remains a concern that so many within the profession don’t realise the extent to which their work is noticed and appreciated.
Events such as the national care home open day aim to provide the public with an opportunity to find out more about care homes and the people who work in them.
It’s also a great way for care home managers to be recognised by the public for all the great work they do.
How we view healthcare professionals is important
By sharing positive stories (which we do on Nurses.co.uk!) and highlighting positive narratives around our healthcare and medical workers, we can make them feel more appreciated and motivated in their careers.
Our research highlights that negative press is often unfounded, and serves only to demotivate vital front line staff struggling to do difficult and vital work.
With positive stories coverage few and far between, it has a knock on effect on people working on the front line of our healthcare system – but this can all be changed with more positive messaging.