Saturday 19 January 2019
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The media portrayal of care homes

"Abuse in Care Home” and “Regulator slams Care Home”….such headlines that are all too common in newspapers and on-line.

This is despite the fact the vast majority of care homes treat their residents with compassion and kindness, giving them invaluable support and a haven of safety when they are no longer able to cope themselves.  By all means report the bad, help to drive up standards and foster an expectation that high quality care and support should be the norm.  But persistent negativity only serves to frighten people into hoping that they never have to go into “one of those places”, when often in reality that experience is very positive.  In trying to expose bad practice our media often seems to have gone almost too far the other way.  Not only do people have a poor perception, even fear – of having to live in a care home, the risk is that no-one will want to work in care homes either.

There are thousands of people who describe carers as “angels”, and who tell us they don’t know what they would have done without them.  The people who work in our care homes are dedicated and committed individuals who deliver wonderful care and support to those who rely upon them.  Where then are the headlines that reflect that side of care?  How often do you see on the front page of a newspaper “Wonderful care experience”, or “Outstanding Care Home applauded by Regulator”?  If such words appear at all, they are usually buried deep in the newspaper and almost hidden from view.

Good news stories, they say, don’t sell papers.  However, bad news stories do nothing to promote a sense of reassurance among those who may rely on care homes for neither their well-being in the future, nor any sense of pride among those who dedicate their lives to providing that invaluable care and support.  So, let’s celebrate the good work care providers are doing and demonstrate all the positive aspects of living and working in care homes or extra care schemes!

Maybe we can all make a concerted effort proactively to show our media representatives what care is REALLY like and persuade them to start giving a fairer reflection of how good life in a care home can be.

Janis Tunaley
Communications Manager
The Orders of St John Care Trust

Member of the National Care Forum