Inspirational Marta spells out the crisis in our care homes

Torbay Weekly

Marta Broyd is the Operation Director of The Human Touch Group, who run two care homes in Torbay - Hill House and Three Corners.

Care homes have born the brunt of some of the biggest problems since the pandemic began - problems which show no sign of abating any time soon as cases of the Omicron variant continue to surge.

Marta is a dedicated and passionate professional who runs her homes with pride, and has been praised by the Care Quality Commission, notably for her efforts to respond to the Covid crisis within her homes.

But Christmas and the New Year and the build-up to the festive period has been tough. In her own words, Marta explains why:

"The care home sector is going through an unbelievably tough time. The COVID-19 pandemic hit society hard, and care home residents were particularly affected. I think it exposed how little those in authority really knew about the provision  of care in our homes.

"We have been neglected by government. We felt that here at Hill House and Three Corners, and I know that other care homes have suffered as well. When the outbreak first hit there was limited guidance for managing COVID-19 in our care homes. I feel obliged to say a little more about the tremendous pressures being put upon the care system in this country. We are at the forefront of this.

"It is only right that I tell you that we are doing all this against a background of system failure. Something has to change soon and those in authority have to get real about what is happening on a day-to-day basis. Residents in care homes are being let down. It’s putting unimaginable pressure on them and the staff who care so deeply for them.

"Those who work in the care system do so largely because they want to make a difference. They want to help and support our vulnerable elderly and do all they can to make their lives as comfortable and enjoyable as possible in their circumstances. However, they are let down by poor pay and conditions, the latter of which is now resulting in good people, really caring people, no longer wanting to work in a broken and neglected system.

"The Department of Health and Social Care’s ‘Made With Care’ recruitment campaign launched on November 3, 2021, and we’re told will run will until March 2022. It aims to encourage people to pursue a rewarding career in adult social care. The campaign shows the amazing work that care workers do, celebrates the way they empower the people they care for, and shines a light on the emotional rewards of the role.

"However, it isn’t really addressing the day-to-day problems that are frequently occurring. Take hospital discharges for example. This is now at breaking point.

"So many care homes are now understaffed that they simply cannot take in hospital discharges. These poor people, some of our most vulnerable, then end up being ferried around from place to place and often end up back at the hospital they’ve been discharged from. That in turn causes bed blockages in wards, which just makes the whole process worse.

"This prompts all those good people who work both in the NHS and in the care system to start blaming each other for the system breakdown. That isn’t fair. It’s not the fault of the NHS or the care homes, but the fault of those in authority who don’t invest either the time or the money to sort the situation out.

"There are people currently talking about these issues. In our area The Devon Care Homes Collaborative Group do their best to understand our concerns. On a national level the recent ‘King’s Fund Analysis’ looks at the wider issues, and tries to address integration between hospitals and care homes. However, much as a long-term solution is needed, we desperately need something to change now.

"Additionally, not only do care homes find it difficult to recruit more staff, but they are actively losing them through poor pay and working conditions. This is like two tectonic plates scraping against each other, on a path of collision. They are already creating ripples of distress, but the situation is inevitably going to be disastrous if somebody doesn’t do something as a matter of urgency.

"That’s where we are as we are about to enter 2022. On a knife-edge, and I can only hope that somebody in authority addresses these issues with immediate effect, making real life changes. I want to get back to telling you about all the good things we do in our homes. About our wonderful dedicated staff and the caring way they look after our residents.  I want to tell you about the fun times we have, the events, the games, the cultural days out - but all our energy has inevitably been focused on this. Our staff continue to provide the best care they can... but be in no doubt, we are in crisis, very real existential crisis, and all of us have to address these issues as an emergency. "