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Care home failings will hit district nurses

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District nurses could be left to pick up the pieces following 'disappointing and widespread' failures by care providers to meet the challenges posed by caring for people with complex conditions, the Queen's Nursing Institute has warned.

The Care Quality Commission's (CQC) report The State of health Care and Adult Social Care in England 2011/12, published last month, found care is often task-based, rather than person-centred in care homes and that many have the 'wrong mix of skills' or a lack of sufficiently skilled and experienced staff.

As a result, the CQC found 16 per cent of residential care homes failed to meet the standard on 'supervising and training staff' and 15 per cent of nursing homes failed to meet the standard of 'respecting and involving people'.

Commenting on the report, QNI director Crystal Oldman said: 'Staff vacancies and staff shortages tend to contribute to a lack of high quality, compassionate care. In many cases, we know district nurses are the ones left to make good these deficiencies, where, for example, patients develop pressure sores.

'The report shows that while most care is being delivered to the regulator's standards, there are also some very disappointing and widespread failures, in particular in nursing homes, and in the area of mental health.

'The QNI has been campaigning for more than two years for the right balance of skills in community healthcare teams. If more care is going to be delivered in the community, including in nursing homes, it is vital that there is more investment in well trained staff, including nurses, who have the time and the expertise to give high quality, compassionate and person-centred care to the most vulnerable members of society.'

The CQC has launched a raft of digital improvements including an email alert service, an information sharing CQC Widget and improved historical information on care homes.

The email alert service will allow nurses to sign up for the most up-to-date standards and quality reports about care providers across England. It is hoped the alerts will provide direct, timely and reliable access to CQC activity about health and social care providers.

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