1 in 4 care home residents “treated like children” at mealtimes

September 20, 2013, 8:51 AM GMT+0

More than a quarter of people with friends and relatives in care homes say their loved ones are sometimes treated as children at mealtimes, a new report from YouGov reveals.

The “Care Home Catering” research interviewed relations and acquaintances of people with experience of care homes. It found that that 28% of current and 26% of recent (26%) care home users say that their friends or relatives are sometimes treated as children at mealtimes.

YouGov’s survey shows that most residents need help some or all of the time with eating (51% of current residents, 73% of recent) and a high proportion need help some or all of the time with drinking (45% of current and 68% of recent residents).

The study reveals that 15% of current users and 26% of recent users didn’t think their friend or relative were helped enough to eat and 16% of current users and 24% of recent users didn’t think their friend or relative was given sufficient assistance to remain properly hydrated.

However, despite these concerns, more than half (53%) of those with acquaintances and relations currently in care homes say food standards are better than that provided in NHS hospitals. Among those who have recently had relations and acquaintances in care, the percentage is slightly lower (48%).

YouGov’s research suggests that while important, food is less important than other factors such as comfortable rooms for those in care. Nevertheless, over half of those asked (56%) consider nutritious, high-quality food to be very important with regard to friends and relatives who are currently or have recently been in care homes. 84% of current users and 85% of recent users believe that it is very important that all residents and patients have access to good quality food at all times.

James McCoy, Research Director at YouGov, says: “As the recent stories about meal standards in the NHS show, food and care go hand in hand. It is a mixed picture in the care home sector. Many view the standard of food their loved ones received in care homes to be higher than they got in hospitals. The quality of the meals is generally thought to be high but the area where the sector needs to improve is how the food is consumed. With so many residents needing help with meals, staff in homes need to make sure they are treated in a professional and sympathetic manner.”

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