Care homes open their doors to the public today

20 June 2014
Thousands of UK care homes are throwing open their doors to the public today as part of an initiative which aims to change perceptions of care homes.

National Care Home Open Day, a nationwide event which is being backed by Dying Matters and our lead charity, the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC), is offering the public an opportunity to find out more about their local care home and see for themselves what good care can look like.

Most British adults have limited engagement with care homes, and this is "at the heart of uncertainty and misunderstanding about care homes and the sector" according to the National Care Forum, which is leading the initiative.

A ComRes poll of 2,000 adults commissioned for the event discovered that the greater majority (78 percent) of people with first-hand experiences of residential care homes have a more positive view of the sector and are far more likely to show a willingness to engage with those in residential care. 

More than 3,000 care homes nationwide are tackling the gulf between reality and perception by encouraging their local communities to visit and experience the range of care services on offer, and to meet residents and staff.  Attractions include cream teas, BBQs, sporting activities and musical entertainment.

Claire Henry, Chief Executive of Dying Matters and NCPC, said: "It’s really heartening to know that people with first-hand experience of residential care homes have a more positive view of the sector than those who don’t, but it also shows why initiatives such as National Care Home Open Day are so important. 

"With more than one in six of us dying in a residential or nursing care home, care homes have a crucial role to play in enabling people to live well until they die. 

"That’s why it’s so important that we all become more knowledgeable about the range of services that care homes provide; it’s also why it’s so important that care homes take end of life care seriously, including through giving real prominence to ensuring that people’s wishes, including their end of life wishes, are discussed sensitively and taken seriously.”

National Care Home Open Day also hopes to encourage people to volunteer in their local care home or to encourage them to consider a career in  care. 

Gloria Hunniford, National Care Home Open Day Ambassador, said: “With only a quarter of people visiting a care home in the last year, the perceptions that most people have of care homes are not based on personal experiences, but instead on old stereotypes and on media coverage when things go wrong. Such misperceptions are damaging to the care sector and do a disservice to the large number of devoted carers working in the residential care sector.

"Before I took part in the BBC documentary ‘When I’m 65’, I had little idea what was involved in providing care and support in a home, and I imagine this is the same for most people who haven’t visited a care home. To challenge these misperceptions we need to encourage the public to engage more with their local care home. The intention of National Care Home Open Day is to strengthen the relationships between care home residents, staff and their neighbours. It may even encourage a few people to think about volunteering to do something during the rest of the year to support and befriend residents in local care homes.”

Follow National Care Home Day on Twitter

If you are tweeting about what your care home is doing today, or you want to join in the conversation, please use the hashtag #NCHOD2014

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