Volunteers Needed for Dignity in Care Scheme

Could you give care home residents the dignity they deserve?

A Merton voluntary group wants people to think about life in a care home and join a project which makes sure residents are treated with dignity and respect.

With social care rarely out of the news, Merton Seniors Forum needs volunteers for its Dignity in Care project, which aims to raise standards in care homes for older and disabled people.

All care homes in England are rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), but these inspections focus on whether residents are safe and their basic needs are met. The finer details of quality of life, dignity, personal privacy and availability of stimulating activities are not noted in detail.

The Dignity in Care project launched in 2013, with initial funding from Comic Relief, with the aim of visiting Merton care homes to assess these issues. Since then its volunteers have made several visits, reporting back to the CQC and Merton Council.

Examples of issues highlighted during these visits include residents sharing rooms without en-suite facilities and homes where younger disabled adults have little in the way of stimulating activities.

Chair of Dignity in Care Myrtle Agutter said: “We feel passionately that every care home resident should be treated with dignity and respect, and have their voices heard. While there are examples of very good homes out there, too many still fail to meet standards we’d expect for ourselves and our loved ones.

“Moving into residential care means adapting to a completely different way of life, where you are reliant on care being delivered by a range of care staff - sadly this care is not always delivered with the dignity and respect to which all residents are entitled.

“Our volunteers spend much of their visiting time chatting to residents and learning about their daily lives as well as reminiscing. If we notice any safeguarding issues we alert the authorities immediately. Having more volunteers would mean more visits and more time with care home residents. So if you can spare as little as one day a month, which includes visits and report writing, please do get in touch.”

Dignity in Care also runs a networking forum, which brings together care home managers and staff to share ideas and good practice. Volunteers produce a newsletter, which is distributed to homes to keep residents informed about local events and issues.

While the initial focus was on older people, the project now works with Merton Centre for Independent Living, to visit homes for younger adults with disabilities.

Dignity in Care receives no state funding. To enable it to continue carrying out this vital work, more volunteers are desperately needed.

No special experience is necessary – just empathy and the ability to communicate with residents and staff and to write reports. Training and full support will be given.

June 21, 2017