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Care homes 'struggle to meet residents' needs'

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Many nurses believe care homes are understaffed and ill-equipped to meet residents’ needs, a new survey suggests.

The Royal College of Nurses conducted a poll of 600 nurses working in care homes.

It found that more than a quarter (26%) of nurses felt that care homes did not have adequate equipment and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, more than a third (38%) of respondents said they thought the homes were understaffed, with a lack of full-time registered nurses.

And almost half (48%) of nurses said care homes were accepting residents to fill empty beds, despite fears about levels of care.

The RCN warned that the ongoing cuts in care home funding will create further challenges in treating elderly people with complex medical needs.

It said patients are frequently being transferred to care homes from acute hospitals, often with complicated care requirements.

Commenting on the report, RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said the “hugely concerning” findings highlighted “the many daily challenges” that care home nurses face in delivering high quality care.

He added: “Many of these challenges are not new, but following years of underinvestment these issues have now significantly worsened. When nearly two in five nurses say there are not enough nurses to meet the needs of residents, then you know that this is a worrying state of affairs.

“Even nurses who were positive about the quality of care felt it was delivered despite significant challenges.”

The union has recommended a re-evaluation of how funding is allocated to care homes, as well as the introduction of national guidance on staffing levels.

It has also called for a government review of workforce planning in care homes and for regulation of all healthcare assistants.

Dr Carter added: “On a daily basis nurses have to deal with the burden of repeated form filling and eligibility assessments.

“It is nursing staff and the NHS that have to deal with the pressures of delayed transfers, referrals and confusion over who pays for what.”

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