Communications for care

The Equality and Human Rights Commission today published a damning report on the treatment received by the elderly in care homes.

It follows a spate of negative publicity plaguing the care industry of late, with stories of neglect, abuse, or poor living conditions.

Surely the care home sector can’t really be that bad? Well, no, as a matter of fact it isn’t, though that’s the impression the average reader is bound to take away.

The truth is that the vast majority of residential and nursing homes – whether privately or local authority run – provide efficient, professional and humane treatment for those in their charge and are as horrified as the rest of us by the bad apples in their midst.

In the welter of negative publicity, however, that easily gets lost - the sector clearly needs to be shown how to present its nicer, kinder face. It also needs to know how to deal with problems in the unfortunate event they arise.

So, by way of some helpful advice...

• In preparation for a crisis, designate a senior spokesperson and ensure all staff know who that person is. Prepare a statement for the media which is open and honest. Finally, never say “no comment” when asked a question by a journalist – it implies guilt.

• Tell the media what’s good about what you do... Organise events involving the community, and invite local celebrities and the media to show yourself in the best possible light.

The media will come knocking if the story is negative, but to get positive coverage you must be proactive.

If ever a sector needed some tender, loving care, it’s the care sector.