Relationships deliver quality residential care

Paul Burstow

In the interview with Paul Burstow (former care services minister and Lib Dem MP, Chair for the commission on the future of residential care for thinktank Demos), The Guardian posed questions from its Social Care Network community and recorded his responses as part of their video series.

The most interesting point which Paul Burstow repeated a number of times was that the focus for a significant improvement to Residential Care homes is the shift from a task focus to a relationship focus. He mentioned the de-humanising impact of staff completing a series of tasks at the expense of a focus on long term relationships with the cared for person. He cited models from the USA The Green House project and The Eden Alternative being looked at by the commission.

He talked about the importance of staff in the implementation of this approach – impacting morale, training, support and reduction in staff turnover. In the last 30 seconds of the interview he talked about the key role of managers.

I’m keen to understand more about what he (and Demos) mean about a “focus on relationships”. At Wingivers we have based our work on care and service on supporting people to create meaningful relationships with each other and the people they are responsible for. The culture in which this exists has to be adjusted to support these meaningful relationships. One of the principles will underpin the culture is that care for the employee will ensure that employees are equipped to care or serve others. This is a “whole system” approach that cannot be delivered by a top down communication and training employees. The approach is best developed using a cross section of employees including front line managers and senior staff, from the outset. Culture change takes time and there are no quick fixes. But we will get a radically improved standard of care.

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