The care crisis presents an opportunity to look at how care homes can be improved through innovation
The BBC reported over the weekend that one in five care homes in the UK are failing to meet national standards for care. The news comes at a time when the care sector is under increasing scrutiny, with news last month that the care budget has been cut by a fifth over the last decade. It’s a worrying time in the spotlight for the care sector, but it also provides an opportunity to look at how care can be improved through innovation.
The BBC story is full of horror stories such as residents being washed in cold water or homes smelling of urine. But the quality of care extends much further than these obvious failures. For example, at the heart of NICE guidelines on the quality of care for older people in care homes is a requirement for participation in ‘meaningful activity’.
Engagement in meaningful activity is essential to the mental – and often physical – well-being of care home residents. Inspection criteria from the Care Quality Commission include the requirement for meaningful activity as part of their new guidance for providers; only last month the CQC judged a care home in Dorset to be failing, with criticism focusing on the lack of “stimulation through encouragement to follow interests or take part in meaningful social activities.”
Providing ‘meaningful activities’ can mean a lot of things, and should make care providers look towards innovative approaches to the problem. Oomph! Wellness – one of our portfolio companies – offers just that. Oomph! provides specially designed chair-based exercise to care home residents, training care home staff to deliver fun and interactive classes that have been shown to increase the social engagement of residents and boost their mental and physical wellbeing. Hallmark, Brighterkind and Ideal Care Homes are at the forefront of adopting such innovations to improve the quality of life of their resident.
"Oomph! stands for Our Organisation Makes People Happy! and that's what we and our hundreds of partner care homes nationally are committed to doing every single day. Our exercise and group activities have been shown to improve the quality of life of residents, staff and visitors to ensure that care homes are places where older adults can express their personality, rediscover their passions and achieve their goals."
Ben Allen, founder and CEO, Oomph! Wellness
The best thing about Oomph! is that its effects are multi-faceted. For example, 88% of Oomph! instructors reported a significant or very significant impact on residents’ social interaction in the last quarter of 2014, whilst 83% reported the same on mental stimulation of residents and 64% on physical mobility. And that’s not all. Activities such as those provided by Oomph! trainers have a wider impact on the culture and atmosphere of the care home, with 87% of instructors reporting a significant or very significant improvement in their job satisfaction since they have been providing Oomph! sessions.
There is a long way to go in tackling the care crisis. Oomph! is a great example of the impact that innovative new solutions can have in improving quality of care and, importantly, quality of life of residents and staff.