Gerry Robinson on Dementia # 1/3

Dementia Residential Care Homes

I started to write this after watching an investigation, by Gerry Robinson, into the state of Elderly Care Homes for those with Dementia.   He declared his motivation lay in the recent loss of his father from this condition.

Gerry Robinson

Gerry Robinson has run businesses at CEO level and currently uses his insight in helping ‘save’ businesses from collapse.  I like his calm approach because he delivers an objective report while leaning towards the helpless rather than hopeless.

A few years ago he went into an NHS Hospital in York to help them organise better systems, as they attempted to apply some business principles in order to run more efficiently.  On that occasion the most obvious problem that emerged were the tiers of bureaucracy and red-tape that prevented simple decisions being made.  With this in mind, I felt the new series would make for a reliable report.


the romanian mobIt was quite an eye-opener as well as a scary prospect for what Gerry Robinson quoted will be an anticipated 1-million possible cases by the year 2020 here in the UK alone.  I want to cover it over 3-parts to give each aspect close attention and will show:

  • Part 1 – what doesn’t work and why
  • Part 2 – what does work and why
  • Part 3 – going forwards

Dementia Residential Care Homes

Here in Part 1 we’ll look at the programmes example (of a care-home) what is and isn’t working and why.  The example is a Residential Care Home called Summer Vale in Leicester which gave great insight into how poor leadership in any managerial role can lead to descent in any organisation …

However, it was particularly pertinent to this environment where due to lack of staff discipline from the centre and area management residents suffered from poor care and attention and sometimes had been allowed to sleep in their day-clothes.

Summer Vale Residential Home

Burgos 213It begins where it shows Robinson patrolling the corridors of the home where he comes across Ken, who is crying out for help!  Gerry discovers the pull-cord has been tied up out of reach, so the patient cannot ring for help and has to resort to calling out from his bed.  Other similar cases are mentioned.

He calls for a staff meeting and advises that if he had an inkling of who was responsible for this they would be ‘sacked on the spot’.  The room is silent except for the manager who we see smirking, at this point its not clear if this is due to embarrassment or her full knowledge and encouragement of such a practice.

Hospital bed.Later on it transpires the manager doesn’t motivate or take interest in her staff or patients and instead hides away in the office.

This  ultimately shows how frustrating this is for conscientious staff who  are left feeling under-valued, while other staff take their full-quota of ‘sick’ leave and fail to carry out their duties satisfactorily.   It impacts them as they take up the slack.

The reason

It seems that many homes sprung up here (in the UK) during the 1980’s as the weekly fees soared in price where it now costs something in the region of £500-1000/wk.  Far greater than a hotel with claims that costs are aligned with personal care.  But is this so, when we examine the hourly rate paid to care-workers who are mostly on a minimum wage.  Is it raw profit because it certainly presents a great challenge when you need to find a home for a loved one.

My personal interest

It’s a fascinating insight as someone with an elderly parent (who is fortunate to live with family) and I closely relate to the issues raised.

But I can’t help wonder just how commonplace these practices are or did programme simply highlight a one-off worst-case-scenario?  How widespread is this kind of treatment in Care Homes across the UK?

Do you know anyone who is being affected, either staff or resident’s?  I’d be very interested to hear.

Next time I’ll share what was being done in another home that made all the difference and it really didn’t take much to make the change.

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photo credit: jonrawlinson  Creative Commons License photo credit: Creative Commons License photo credit: YODCOX!


  1. I have to say that it’s a nicely focused article as some key points have been raised in it and it is informative too on the same time. I agree quite a lot with the thoughts there is something wrong in the upper management level of residential care homes where such mistakes happen and later these mistakes take form of accidents. It simply means that either the upper management staff is not working devotedly towards the residents or they are not much interested in taking care of them as the lower residential staffs which have direct interaction from residents can not just ignore them like this until they got any support from their superiors.

  2. Thanks for the comment Aaron … its a big topic and I guess resources and how they are used is key. But mindset and understanding the possibilities and potential we have to achieve more than we think (at any stage of life) is also something that Care Providers such as David Sheard’s system has recognised. And it seems an important factor that will be paramount in how caregiving for the elderly will role out going forwards.

    We have to start involving residents more so whatever quality of life they have is optimised, we’ve seen how institutionalised and ‘numb’ people can become when their value is not acknowledged. I think things will change for the better … I certainly hope so … but like anything those that are involved don’t always see how, until they are shown by trail-blazers such as those featured on the programme!

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