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New report advocates rebranding residential care

04 September 2014

“A vision for care fit for the twenty-first century…”

This is the final report of the Commission on Residential Care on the future development of residential care.

It finds that the public has negative perceptions of residential care homes/settings as places of illness and frailty, where you would only go as a last resort.

The report suggests that, despite these perceptions, the sector is full of innovative and excellent examples of high-quality, personalised and empowering care for people with diverse and complex needs.

“For most people, going into residential care is synonymous with an end to independence, of loss. Personal independence is wrongly linked in the public mind with remaining in one’s own home. In the UK and around the world we have seen great examples of how residential care can reinvent itself. It is no longer a last resort, but a respected part of a continuum of ‘housing with care’, which is enabling people to lead bigger and more fulfilling lives.”

The Commission recommends a number of measures to embed good practice and challenge public perceptions. These include:

  • Rebranding by applying a broader definition of ‘housing with care’ throughout government policy rather than the existing term residential care

“Throughout this report, ‘residential care’ is referred to as ‘housing with care’ and used to encapsulate the entire spectrum of options, from care homes to extra-care villages and supported living apartments.”

“The Commissioners feel that the term ‘housing with care’ could replace ‘residential care’ to describe a spectrum of different housing options where care is delivered on site.”

  • Greater co-location of care settings with other community services such as colleges
  • The expansion of CQC’s role in inspecting commissioning practices; and promoting excellence in the profession through the introduction of a license to practice and a living wage.

Disability Rights UK CEO Liz Sayce says

“Residential care does not need re-branding. What people need are genuine opportunities to receive the support you need in your own home so you can pursue the life of your choosing - your own family life, social life.

Of course you may choose to move - perhaps to housing that is easier to manage if you are disabled or getting older. But - as the Commission rightly says - there should be a separation between where you live and the support you receive.

People need security of housing - rights that are obtained through owning, or having tenancy rights, or shared ownership - and on top of that, flexible support to suit each individual.

This is not about re-branding residential care - but rather about rights to secure housing and rights to support that suits you, as the independent living movement has argued for decades.

The risk in 're-branding' residential care is it could legitimise people having to move to where the support is - as the default option - rather than exploring support delivered to the place they choose to live. Unfortunately people often are offered default solutions rather than creative options. And it could legitimise institutions that breed cultures of abuse. Separating the living space of disabled people from other citizens risks creating closed communities, which we know from history can result in people being treated differently from others, with less attention to their ordinary everyday human rights.”