The Dementia Care Crisis - And How You Can Overcome It

7 min read

By Georgina Warburton

Manager

Two recent studies have prompted concern about the quality of care for patients with dementia in the later stages of their lives. One study, entitled ‘What are the barriers to care integration for those at the advanced stages of dementia living in care homes in the UK? A health care professional perspective’, suggested that care homes across the country were failing to meet the needs of many people in the later stages of dementia. A second was published 5th March, by Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at UCL, concluding that the care of people with dementia in the UK was ‘fragmented and inadequate’. Patients in the later stages of the disease tend to become very frail and reliant on intensive, around-the-clock care, which requires well-trained staff, emotional support and, often, good cooperation between team members. More often than not, these standards were not being met.

Given that a large proportion (around 80%) of the 400,000 residents in UK care homes currently suffer from some form of dementia, the projected impact on the industry is significant.   Considering one in three people over the age of 65 will develop the disease – a figure that is expected to rise as our population gets older – the shortfall is in urgent need of addressing. To put that into perspective, there are 800,000 people in the UK with a form of the disease – in ten years’ time, this will rise to a million. By 2051, there will be 1.7 million dementia sufferers. At the same time, spending on the care industry in real terms has fallen by around £770m since 2010. There are fears that the industry will not be able to cope.

Most, if not all, problems reported, centred on the management of responsible carers onsite. While proper late-stage dementia care requires a multi-disciplinary team, the reports found that ‘staffing levels were consistently poor’. Indeed, one mental health professional quoted in the study, given options to choose from, said that the one key factor to change the situation would be ‘Really well trained staff. …Of all the stuff that you’ve said, I think it’s well trained staff’. Care staffs need to be properly taught how best to care for those with dementia, particularly at the later stages when debilitation worsens. However, there is a notoriously high staff turnover amongst care home business. This is often because the employees don’t fit the business they have joined, whether this is down to company culture, a skills/experience gap, or a lack of motivation. This in turn often means the necessary training doesn’t get completed.

This wasn’t the only recruitment problem noted. The report said it was common for ‘care homes [to] operate on minimal staffing levels’. Problems with management of staff, whether this centred on the hiring process, training, or retention, were identified as being the key factors behind the problems. The relative successes of these aspects depend on the performance and organisation of the care home manager. Care home managers are responsible for – amongst many other things – delivering staff training, developing onsite facilities, ensuring compliance, addressing problems with clients and residents, raising funds, and managing employee and business performance. Given all this, the damage a poor hire can do is immense.

Yet for hirers who aren’t sure what to look for during the recruitment process, it’s simple to hire an individual who might have everything required on paper, but can’t generate results due to other reasons – for example, a lack of motivation or the proper cultural fit. That’s where the services of professional recruiters should come in. Given the industry-wide deficiency in late-stage dementia care, there is great competitive advantage to be seized for proactive business owners who embrace modern recruitment practices.

CSG Care has an unparalleled network of industry contacts and decades of combined experience in specifically recruiting for mid-to-senior roles in health and social care. Our executive search function gives you access not only to the small number of care home managers actively seeking new work – which usually numbers around 5% - but to the entire market of people who could potentially do your job. This isn’t only an advantage in quantity of candidates, but also in their quality as well. Why? Because the best performers tend to enjoy the work they do, and their employers – if they’re wise – do everything within their power to keep hold of them. However, the majority of care home managers will at least be willing to hear about the opportunity on offer. By hiring the right person, you can secure your business an operational and reputational advantage that will last into the future.