brap research: ‘Is excessive paperwork in care homes undermining care for older people?’

Are older people in care homes missing out on quality time with staff because workers are preoccupied with paperwork?

Care homes have to regularly complete more than 100 separate items of paperwork, often duplicating the same information, this study found. Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, brap researchers visited care homes and spoke to staff who felt they were judged more on their ability to produce paperwork than deliver care.

This research recommends that the sector rethinks its priorities and makes changes to the way it deals with administration so older people can be given more compassionate, personalised care.

Key points:

  • The balance between prevention of poor care and promotion of good care is out of kilter. Fuelled by fear and insecurity, care homes spend too much time attempting to cover themselves against blame or litigation, often at the expense of spending time with residents
  • Staff can lose their sense of vocation if they feel like they are being judged more on how they produce paperwork than how they care for people. Some home managers spend 20% of their time on paperwork and often have to duplicate information for different agencies
  • Paperwork has limited our ability to measure the quality of interactions between staff and residents. These day-to-day interactions should be at the heart of care home inspections, which should give real weight to resident participation, choice, dignity and respect

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