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Night checks needed for care homes

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Nursing homes should be routinely inspected at night to protect quality of care, claims a charity.

The report, published this week by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says that little is known about care at night and homes are seldom inspected during this period – usually only if there had been a complaint. When they were carried out, night-time inspections are less rigorous than daytime inspections.

The report was based on a University of Edinburgh study, which looked at the night-time experiences of residents, relatives and staff at three care homes in Scotland.

It found there was a ‘general culture of anxiety among staff’, and the night-time physical environment was ‘disabling rather than enabling’. It concluded staff were often inadequately trained and supervised while working after daylight hours.

The report says care home inspections, currently carried out by the Care Commission in Scotland and the Committee for Social Care Inspection in England, should be made routine at night. Inspectors should also provide home-specific guidance on staffing levels for night-time care.

Report author Heather Wilkinson said guidance on night-time residential care needed to be ‘far more explicit’. ‘There needs to be awareness and training, not only for care home managers, but also for regulators and inspectors,’ she told NT.

Cheryl Henderson, nurse manager of one of the care homes studied, said she wanted night inspections at least every two years. ‘It is important to have inspections at night to see what’s happening,’ she said. ‘It is also important for care home managers to occasionally go in to touch base with night staff.’

Ms Henderson said that, while it not always easy, her care home also tried to offer some training at night for staff.

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