Category Archives: dementia care

Care in the UK – 5 years on – Part 3

This day five years ago, 31 December 2007, was a difficult one for many reasons.  I know that you won’t wish me to go into the detail of some of those reasons here.

We drove to London again and spent 4 hours at the Whittington Hospital dealing with various formalities. Most of the morning we spent in the PALS office (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) and talking on the phone with the Coroner’s Office and with one of the hospital doctors involved in your care.  We grabbed a coffee and  left at about 1 o’clock, having decided that we did not want to have to return to that part of London again in the near future.

That’s why we went – on the spur of the moment, unplanned and unannounced – to Lennox House to collect your belongings and avoid the need to go back there again.  While you were still alive, just, I’d already asked the manager to send me a copy of everything on your records.   On 20 December 2007 I received a copy of a document that Care UK calls the ‘Daily Record’ .  It was only 9 pages so I asked the manager to copy and send everything else.  It was the only document I’d seen then, but it gave a good indication of the very days when you must have been desperate for help, but no indication of any help being given.

We parked the car and were able to walk straight into Lennox House.  So much for security.  The manager was at reception, but she didn’t recognise us.  She’d only met us once before,  back in August 2007 when we went on a recce to Lennox House, just one of the care homes we looked at.  There was no reason she should have recognised us.  I introduced myself and explained that we’d come to collect your belongings.  She said she’d just been speaking with your niece on the phone and she was planning to collect your things.  It was easier for us to do it there and then, as that niece doesn’t drive.  She also said that she was just writing a note to me, to accompany the paperwork I had asked for.  I said I’d take it all with me and save her the trouble of posting it.

We went to your room, and packed your things; a few were missing, especially two rings.  I asked for them – but I was assured you had not had any rings on your fingers when you arrived in Lennox House.  It was an uncomfortable thing to hear, because we ‘d bought one of those rings, the ruby ring, for your 80th birthday.  The sapphire and diamond ring had been on your finger for the last 60 years –  more years than I care to remember.  I’d noticed you were wearing both rings when we last saw you there, in November.  Eventually, the staff managed to come up with one of the rings.  The other one never surfaced.

We went down to reception.  I was asked to go into the manager’s office, while “His Lordship” as you always called him took your things to the car, before returning.  In that office, I was subjected to an inquisition.  I was expected to go through every single line of the Daily Record and explain my concerns to the manager, as she wrote alterations on the pages.  I thought I’d already done that on the phone earlier in December, but I still had to go through it all again.  It became impossible for me, and I left the office in tears saying I just couldn’t go on with it.  We had spent 4 hours at the Whittington Hospital, and I was exhausted.

I told the manager much of what we’d been through when you were in hospital, including being asked to explain how your diabetes was so out of control.  I’d already spoken with the GP who hadn’t bothered to look at the meds you were taking, when she’d been called to the home, and who told me she was not aware that you were a diabetic.  If she had been given a list of the meds you were taking it would have been obvious to her that you were a diabetic.  If one of the nurses had told the GP you were a diabetic, she might have treated you differently.   (She’d never met you before, as you were new to the care home and new to the surgery providing services to that care home.)  Interestingly, it was only from that Daily Record that I discovered the GP had spoken with Lennox House (on 14 December 2007, while you were in hospital) before she returned my call to her that day.

The manager told me that there were no available glucose strips in that home,  because the GP does not prescribe them.  The manager told me that Care UK wouldn’t provide them either.  To say that I was shocked, again, would be an understatement.  I volunteered to pay for a year’s supply so that no other person with diabetes would ever arrive in A&E in a diabetic coma, like you did.  With much of your bloods and tests ‘deranged’ .

I’m still trying to work out why those same words about glucose strips being unavailable are written in your care home notes, in the Daily Record for 7 December 2007.  It’s such a strange few lines to have been added to someone’s personal care record.  After all, you weren’t the only resident with diabetes, so  it strikes me as a very strange addition to your records.  Contemporaneous?  I doubt it.

The manager said “we have taken steps to make sure this never happens again”.

That was too late for you.  You only had one chance.

What I didn’t know until much later (namely July 2008)  was that a ‘Complaints Form’ came into being on this day, five years ago.  Its purpose was to indicate that ‘a meeting had been arranged’ to discuss my concerns, all of which appear to have been resolved that very day.  I learned from CSCI (Commission for Social Care Inspection) that a ‘meeting had been arranged’ this day, 5 years ago, to discuss my concerns.   It must be the first ‘meeting’ where people stood to ‘discuss’, rather than sat comfortably.   CSCI asked for a copy of the minutes of that meeting.  CSCI is now the CQC (Care Quality Commission).  There were no minutes – because it was not a meeting.  It was a chance encounter.   (More about this all another time.)

I left Lennox House in tears.  This day 5 years ago.

You deserved better care.

(To be continued)

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Care in the UK – 5 years on – Part 2

This day, 5 years ago, was obviously a day of quiet reflection for us, as will be today.  It’ll give me a chance to update this blog over events while you were in intensive care.

All we could do when you arrived in hospital, on Saturday 8 December 2007, was sit with you in ITU, where you were transferred once you had been stabilised in A&E, and once we had discussed with the Consultants.  Questions were beginning to formulate in our minds, caused by the very questions we were asked by the Consultants, but it was a weekend so there was no chance of contacting the social worker or the care home manager.  We left messages on the social worker’s answering system.

The first question we were asked was to explain how your diabetes had come to be so out of control.  Our answer: we never knew it was out of control.  It was as if we were being held responsible.  Only later did we discover that, for some unexplained reason, the paperwork indicated that you lived with us, rather than that you lived in Lennox House in London.  That was our first realisation that the paperwork needed to be looked at with a close eye.  We were asked many more questions, of course, and we were told much about your condition on arrival.  Shocking was your condition.

On the Monday, still in ITU, I had a sudden thought.  The social worker had declared herself “the decision maker” when it came to deciding where you should live.  We were not even invited to the ward round meeting where this important decision about you was made.  She was “the appointed decision maker”, she said.

So, I wondered why she had not responded to my phone message.  After all, surely she should be making decisions now too, shouldn’t she, if she had taken so much power away from us, and from you.   But the social worker was conspicuous by her absence and by her silence.

Then, you were moved into isolation because it was decided you had C-Diff (Clostridium Difficile).   So you spent the next few days in isolation, with us as close as we could get to you.

Still no contact from the social worker.

We had to leave you to go to the funeral of a dear friend, and we were away for a couple of days.  I managed to speak with the social worker and with the care home manager.  I was polite but firm when I asked the care home manager to explain to me exactly what had happened in the days that I hadn’t been with you.  The social worker told me that she had asked for a report from the care home, so I asked to see a copy of it when it emerged.  I never did get to see it.   I also asked the Lennox House care home manager for a copy of every single page of the care home notes, records, paperwork that arrived with you, paperwork that went with you when Lennox House care home sent you by ambulance to A&E.

When I mentioned that you had C-Diff, the care home manager told me that you had had an episode of C-Diff when you were in Highgate Mental Health Unit’s assessment ward, just before discharge from there. That was news to me.  I said I found it surprising the care home had accepted you, and I asked why it hadn’t been mentioned before.  Her words will never leave me.  She said that it often happened that people arrived in the care home with C-Diff, but it wasn’t necessarily mentioned on the paperwork.  She said the same applied to MRSA.

To say that I was stunned would be an understatement.  I was beginning to get used to shock.

I learned that you had been seen by  a GP  - the manager said you’d been seen the Wednesday before admission to hospital.  Not true.  A GP had only been summoned  by the sending of two faxes – yes, faxes – two hours apart on Friday 7 December 2007.  But nobody declared that when the first investigation was carried out.  (More about that another day.)

You were moved out of isolation and ITU to a general ward.  You regained consciousness only briefly, and one day they managed to get you from bed to chair.  Just the once.

You spoke only two words.  “Thank you.”  The last words you ever spoke.

Tomorrow is another day – and it certainly was, 5 years ago.

You deserved better care.

(To be continued)

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The Madness of Alzheimer’s Society

This being the season of goodwill, my goodwill message to the Alzheimer’s Society is that it should open a dictionary and learn the meaning of the words ‘support’ and ‘discussion’.  Some of us dealing with dementia in our relatives and friends wonder why nothing changes for the better where dementia is concerned; why progress is so slow; why so many people have to tread the same stony path that others have trodden.  The answer may lie in the Alzheimer’s Society’s online forum.

The AS’s  online forum Talking Point claims to be “an online support and discussion forum, for anyone affected by dementia. It’s a place to ask for advice, share information, join in discussions and feel supported.”

The AS has destroyed the true meaning of those words.   With its dictatorial monitoring, editing and censorship of posts, the AS only allows words to be used if  they match those chosen by the AS.  Anything that doesn’t conform to the AS’s desired point of view is amended, edited or deleted by the AS.  Without discussion.

The Alzheimer’s Society condones strange practices within the administration and moderation of its forum.  It allows the banning and removal of people affected by dementia who have been members of the forum for many years now.  At the start of this year, one much respected member (since March 2006) who had posted almost 5,500 times on the forum has been deleted.  She’d been a member for longer than some of the moderators who have now condoned her removal.  She had been extremely supportive of others, providing much care and help, much respected by other members too.  But zapped by the AS, suddenly.  Without warning.

The reason given?  It was deemed by the AS that she was not posting as the AS wished her to post.  No discussion; no appeal; just zapped.  The Alzheimer’s Society’s word is final.

The AS condoned the removal of words like ‘Winterbourne View’ from every single part of the forum.  The reason given?  It does not allow mention of care providers by name.  The strange AS Administrator who carried out that action failed even to take on board the fact that Winterbourne View is no longer; it is no longer a provider of anything.  It no longer exists. (It’s difficult to argue that Winterbourne View ever was a ‘care’ provider, but that’s another debate.)  The salaried AS employees spent time searching for and deleting all mention.  Same applies to Southern Cross – all mention of that has been deleted too.  Even though Southern Cross no longer exists, and is not a care provider.

Rules is rules.  Common sense has gone out of the window, as far as the Alzheimer’s Society is concerned.  Censorship rules.

The AS condones the editing of posts by its moderators and administrators, even months after they’ve been posted.  It makes one wonder how many other posts have been doctored to suit the AS, without discussion with the original poster, and without appeal to reason.

It is censorship gone mad.  What is the AS so afraid of, that it needs to do this to people who are trying to change the world of dementia care?

One forum member posted recently that they’d only just read the Terms and Conditions for the first time – something referred to constantly whenever a moderator wants to spank a naughty member.  The Terms and Conditions were described, by this member, as ‘draconian’.  They certainly are just that.  The ‘infraction’ system is also draconian and childish, in the extreme.

The membership is not allowed to voice any objection, on the forum, to their post having been edited and/or deleted – or they receive a ‘yellow card’ for doing so.  Then another.  Then a ‘red card’ ….. and so it wends its childish way along the path to destruction of anyone who questions.

The members are required to contact the mods or admins by PM to ask for explanation.  However, often no explanation is given.  The member is then zapped before they can blink.  Their account is deleted, just like their posts may have been.  There is to be no discussion.  The AS word is final.  Unexplained but final.

A member is not allowed to delete their own account.  The figures of true membership would then be very different, but it suits the AS to make it seem as if it has more support for its forum than it has.  In reality, just a handful of regular members use what has now become a chat room.

The same rules don’t apply to the AS chosen moderators though.  They are allowed to post whatever they choose.  No matter how arrogantly rude they may be.   Some are worse than others, especially those that come out after dark.  One AS chosen moderator even posted the precise location where one member lives, with a barb attached to her post, of course.  That surely should have received a ‘red card’ followed by deletion of her membership too.  But no.  She can do whatever she chooses to do, even though the AS knows that she is provoking, inciting, stirring ill-will and uncomfortable feelings all round.

The moderators are immoderate enough to allow certain unfair comments to be made against a member – but only if it suits the moderators’ position, for whatever reason.  They have their favourites who can do no wrong, in their eyes.  They have their chosen victims who can do no right, in their eyes.

If the Alzheimer’s Society wants people affected by dementia to be able to share their experience of dementia in a free society, it must allow people to speak freely.  The moderators should be moderate, and should moderate sensibly, rationally and elegantly.  And with dignity and with compassion.  The current watchwords of dementia.  They should not feel the need to read every single post as it is posted, and then to alter it just to suit themselves.  They should not feel the need to amass a fan club amongst the membership, who are required to express their thanks to the moderators for ‘keeping us safe’.

The Alzheimer’s Society is destroying support for dementia, for its forum and for the Alzheimer’s Society.

The Alzheimer’s Society is consenting to the creation of a whole new generation of Stepford Wives.

Seasonal Greetings to those affected by dementia.  A plea to the Alzheimer’s Society to support them and to allow genuine discussion of the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

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The Alzheimer’s Society – Sick Joke?

In March 2011, I wrote here of Private Eye’s  disturbing piece about the way in which the Alzheimer’s Society had closed down 240 regional branch committees, merging them into large regional centres, and then apparently seizing control of all the funds in those branches, and also branch property.  (No. 1284; 18 March 2011 – 31 March 2011; page 30.)  The Alzheimer’s Society didn’t care enough to reply to Private Eye’ article Fund razing, as far as I can see.

The Alzheimer’s Society funds, operates and manages an “online support and discussion forum, for anyone affected by dementia. It’s a place to ask for advice, share information, join in discussions and feel supported.”  Allegedly.  The forum is currently sponsored by Santander, with Tesco somewhere in the background, plus a few other sources of funding.  Probably Bupa, and many other care providers.

There was quite some discussion here on the Alzheimer’s Society forum about the closure of local branch committees and seizing of funds from local branches.  168 postings in total, so a fairly lengthy thread on the forum, with many questions being asked but many soft-fudge replies being given by the Alzheimer’s Society.  Then, before you could blink, the thread was locked, closed to further comment, because long-serving and loyal members of Talking Point – the name given to the so-called ‘support and discussion forum’ – were not happy about the platitudes being dished out to them by the Alzheimer’s Society.  They were confused, upset, fed up and disgruntled.   Many of them no longer support the Alzheimer’s Society or post on Talking Point.

A few weeks later, Private Eye (No. 1289; 27 May – 9 June 2011; page 30) reported that even more volunteers were being driven away from the Charity, with new breakaway groups emerging.  One group apparently wrote to the Alzheimer’s Society complaining that it was “utterly unacceptable and unforgiveable to write in such disdainfully bureacratic terms to anyone, let alone a group of women who have given so much of their time, energy and devotion to the very society you represent”.  Alun Parry-Jones, a former Alzheimer’s Society committee member was the chair of that breakaway group.  He also said “the society should be ashamed of driving out ‘the expertise and dedication of this group of stalwarts’.”   That piece was published in Private Eye under the banner Voluntary redundancy.

Again, the Alzheimer’s Society didn’t care enough to comment.

Now, Private Eye features a piece on the £2.4m given to the Alzheimer’s Society to train one million ‘dementia friends’.  The Eye (No. 1328; 30 November – 12 December 2012; page 30) headlines its piece with the words Sick joke.  Ernie Thompson, who started the old Sunderland branch in 1987, said “That the Society is now being paid to find new volunteers as dementia friends looks to me like a sick joke.  It was what we had been doing for years – only to be summarily dismissed”.

I wonder whether the Alzheimer’s Society will care enough to comment on that one.

It appears that the Alzheimer’s Society neither supports nor wants freedom of thought and actions where dementia is concerned.  It only supports freedoms that the Alzheimer’s Society finds acceptable.  The Alzheimer’s Society is strangling its members.  There is now even an unbelievable attempt to control the way people write their posts on its Talking Point forum.  Posts are edited behind the scenes without prior discussion with the writer of the posts, and often leaving no visible trace of the reasons for editing; words are changed or removed from posts without discussion; mention of moderators’ actions is not allowed; people are gagged when they dare attempt genuine discussion.

Salaried employees of the Alzheimer’s Society are paid to delete all mention of tragedies such as Winterbourne View.  Every single mention of Winterbourne View has been edited out – and there were many.  The words “Winterbourne View” no longer appear on any post on that forum.  The disgust felt by reasonable people when the tragedy of Winterbourne View became known has been the catalyst for potentially huge improvements in the way care is provided to vulnerable people.  But it never happened, as far as the Alzheimer’s Society’s online support forum is concerned.  Terry Bryan would be more than upset, I fear, and rightly so.

Censorship has deleted Winterbourne View.  Alongside many other things deleted by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Is that another Sick joke on the part of the Alzheimer’s Society?

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Neglect and abuse in care in the UK in November 2012

Some people try to convince me that cases of neglect and abuse of vulnerable people in care in the UK are extremely rare.  Some people also try to convince me that those who talk of such cases are scaremongering.

Below is just a selection of cases of neglect and abuse of vulnerable people in care in the UK over the month of November 2012.  It is a selection and by no means all of the cases I came across.  The dates are the publication dates.

5 November 2012:   Britain’s biggest care home owners ‘have £5 billion debts’.      Read more here.

5 November 2012: Nottingham – Police are investigating an elderly care home in Nottingham which closed after  having its council contract suspended.  Read more here.

6 November 2012: Suffolk – The great care home giveaway: Tory council calls in the private sector.   Suffolk County Council has agreed a multimillion pound deal with the private sector to take over its care homes amid fresh calls for financial regulation to protect elderly residents and the taxpayer.

The council’s 16 aging homes will be closed by 2015 and 10 new homes (and wellbeing centres) built – giving the county 104 extra beds to help meet growing demand.

The first five will be built and owned by Schroders UK Property Fund – who will lease the homes back to Care UK. The land is being given to Schroders for free by the council with unrestricted freeholds.   Read more here.

9 November 2012: Dementia patient found wandering in the freezing night ten miles from home after carer ‘forgot’ about him – Read more here.

9 November 2012: - Devon -Council breached equality duty in setting care home fees.  Authority to review care home fees after High Court found it failed to consider impact of possible home closures on vulnerable residents.  Read more here.

19 November 2012: Hayling Island – three women arrested as police investigate claims of neglect at a care home – Read more here.

19 November 2012: Olney, Northamptonshire – two women charged in connection with neglect at a residential home – Read more here.

19 November 2012: Luton – woman denies neglect after an elderly woman with dementia was left on a bus in Luton overnight – Read more here.

19 November 2012: St Saviour, Jersey – A care home nurse threatened to teach a  colleague a lesson by beating her up ‘in the African way’ during an aggressive  outburst, a tribunal heard. Read more here.

20 November 2012: Buckinghamshire – two care home workers charged with neglecting patients at care home for dementia sufferers – each charged with 19 counts  of wilfully neglecting a person without capacity between August 18 and 19, 2011 – Read more here.

23 November 2012: Archway, London – Whittington Hospital – two senior nurses ignored plight of epileptic 17 year old who suffered 5 epileptic fits in the space of 24 hours and died four days later – Read more here.

26 November 2012: Swindon, Wiltshire – Selena House Care Home, Stratton St Margaret to close in December “over safety fears” - The CQC report said the home had failed to meet 11 government standards,  including care and welfare, dignity, cleanliness and infection control. Read more here.

27 November 2012: Goole, Yorkshire – Three Women Arrested after elderly woman is injured ‘while unattended’, allegedly, in care home . Read more here.

27 November 2012: Chingford, Essex – Chingford rehab unit so understaffed patients were left to wet the bed, watchdog finds.  Vulnerable patients’ dignity was compromised by poorly trained staff at a rehab unit where dementia was mistaken for a learning difficulty, according to a damning watchdog report. Read more here.

27 November 2012: Cambridgeshire – Abacus Care Cambridgeshire  has been issued with a formal warning by a health watchdog after failing to meet standards for a second time. Read more here.

27 November 2012: Great Wyrley, Staffs –  care home worker stole cash and personal belongings from residents and staff to help fund her drug habit.  Read more here.

28 November 2012: What can be done to ensure care home residents get quality healthcare? Reports suggest the availability of doctors in care homes has fallen short of what residents are entitled to. So what can be done to ensure these patients get the care they deserve?  Read more here.

30 November 2012: Maltby, Sth Yorks – Melton Court care home residents face pre-Christmas move after it emerged the home’s owner is in prison serving a sentence for causing grievous bodily harm.  Read more here.

And finally, as December 2012 arrives we find:

1 December 2012: Care home regulation not fit for purpose, says care minister Norman LambRead more here.

Better late than never, I guess, but what took you so long to work that one out?

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John Redwood doesn’t care about care

Now we know where John Redwood MP stands or rather sits, when it comes to the Dilnot proposals and the future funding of care.  As long as it doesn’t need to hit his pocket, he doesn’t really care.

In his paper Care for the Elderly – The limitations of the Dilnot Proposals – Redwood tries to make the point six times over that Dilnot is all about protecting inheritances.  He uses the word ‘inheritance’ twice as often as it featured in the Dilnot Report, where the word was only used in connection with people who themselves had inherited.

One example given by Dilnot of how his proposals might work: Emma was born with a learning disability. Her mother died when she was 35; she then had to move into supported housing. She inherited £150,000 from the sale of her mother’s house. She died aged 52.

 Under the current system, Emma received all her care and support free of charge up until the point at which she inherited £150,000. From then on, Emma had to use these assets, along with disability benefits, to pay for her supported housing and care and support costs. By her mid-40s, she had spent down her assets to £14,250, the means-tested threshold, and received support from the state, without charge.

 Under our reforms, as Emma would have turned 18 with an eligible care need, she would be deemed to have met the cap and would receive all her care without charge for the whole of her lifetime. She would have contributed to her general living costs partly herself and partly through her disability benefits. She would spend half of the £150,000 on her general living costs, but could use the rest of the money throughout the rest of her life to improve her overall well-being.

This Guardian article – Redwood attack on cap for care bills of elderly dismissed – tells us more:

‘Asked whether this “unfairness” could be alleviated by taxing the rich a little more, the former Tory minister replied: “Some people might want that. I do not.”’

I am sick and tired of hearing and reading about ‘protecting inheritances’, especially whenever that talk comes from MPs many of whom have inherited a goodly fortune and who will never need to call out for care and support.  Also, it comes from social workers who should know better.  It destroys any ability to concentrate on the real issues of whether or not we, as a relatively prosperous nation, should provide a decent standard of care for those who have no choice but to rely on that which is handed down in the name of residential care.  We can find the money to pay for many things, as a proud and rich nation, wihout harping on about the inheritances of others.  What will be the total cost of the 2012 Olympic Games?  The tax-payer is never asked whether s/he would like to pay a bit more tax – we have no choice in the decisions of John Redwood.  He has the power to decide what happens to us – just by turning up at Parliament and voting.

When I first came into contact with a social worker, she never even had the guts to tell me that she had never worked before in the locality so knew nothing about it; that she had never worked with the mental health care of older people team; that she knew nothing of the service provision in the local authority area; that she knew nothing of dementia and all that dementia brings; that she was a locum.  Her first question was all about money – how much money my relative had in the bank.  If only she had been as open with me about her ‘status’ as I was about the status of my relative, I could have helped her.  Helped the social worker, I mean.  I could have helped the social worker to help my relative.  But all my requests to her were met with the phrase “I’ll see what I can do” – and that usually turned out to be absolutely nothing.  Meanwhile, she caused chaos in the life of a vulnerable person with dementia.

The next social worker I came into contact with was not allowed to speak until she had been CRB-checked, so sat silently at the first meeting.  When she gained her voice, it didn’t take me long to work out that she came from another country.  She was seconded to the same mental health care of older people team; she had never worked with vulnerable older people; her only experience was in the field of childcare and also adoption.  She didn’t want to blot her copybook, so she turned out to be the proverbial chocolate teapot.

A few months later, when I asked her what her next ‘career move’ was, she replied “To go back to Australia as quickly as possible”.  She had been using the system in her own best interests and for a brief while to enhance her CV.  She was gone soon, back where she came from.  Meanwhile, she too caused chaos in the life of a vulnerable person with dementia .

So when I hear about ‘inheritances’ from rich MPs and others who will never need to call on the care system for knowledge and support, or from social workers who know the system inside out but don’t always share that knowledge, I feel the need to ask those who care about these things to consider the ‘inheritance’ they leave behind.

The inheritance they leave behind can be devastating.  What a proud legacy.

Meanwhile, our coalition government (if they’re still around in 2017) will feather the nests of the care providers.  At the expense of those who’ve cared more than they ever did.

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The cost of care

In a funny sort of way, it’s comforting to read this BBC report about a care home provider having just opened a brand new care home providing “en-suite rooms, a hair salon, a library, landscaped gardens and a private dining  room for special occasions”.  It’s even more comforting to learn that all rooms will be equipped with sensors to alert staff if someone falls or has stopped moving.  Tht doesn’t guarantee the staff will respond, of course.

Don’t stop reading yet – because it gets better by the line.

A 12-week induction training period – including dementia care –  for all staff, and that means all staff including the handyman.  Is that 5 days a week? No, surely not.  Is that one day a week for 12 weeks?  No, doubt it.  Is that one hour per week for 12 weeks?  Sounds more likely …. but as long as that  12-week induction training period remains undefined, it may sound great but it could grate later on.  So it could be as little and as meaningless as possible.  But affordable, as far as Anchor is concerned.

The staffing ratio is to be one carer to five residents, so that customers can be cared for the way Anchor wants them to be cared for.

Residents will be able to choose what they eat and when they eat it.  So presumably they will also be able to choose when they go to bed, rather than being treated like little children and made to undress and get ready for bed at 7 pm.

This is all designed for the so-called baby boomer, property rich generation, who will be self-funding their care for the foreseeable future.  Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of Anchor and head of the English Community Care Association, says: “They have higher expectations, they have grown up in a world with all the mod cons and been to hotel rooms with all the modern facilities.

“They will demand that for themselves and also their parents who are in the system now. It is about offering a wide range of services to cater for everyone’s needs.”

So, anyone who is not in that baby boomer, property rich generation will not be so comfortable, because they won’t get a look in once the trend moves towards luxury care homes for self-funders only.  Yet, they and their relatives also have high expections of the word ‘care’ and of the world of ‘care’.

Hang on a minute!  Wait a minute!  Shouldn’t the standards of care being offered in this brand new Anchor care home, West Hall, West Byfleet, be the standards of care that every single person needing care home care should be able to expect?

Or is it only to be made available to those paying £1425 per week?  There are already many care homes charging £1000 plus per week but not providing anything like that staffing ratio of 1:5.  I know of one care home where the staffing ratio in the nursing section was one RGN plus one brand-new healthcare assistant to 28 people in need of 24/7 nursing care – neither the RGN nor the healthcare assistant knew much about the word care, though.

This all sounds great, especially when you read that  West Hall care home was only built because Anchor could largely finance it itself through its reserves.

Reserves that have already had a fair old contribution from local authority funds.  An earlier BBC report told us that Surrey County Council paid about £2.5m in 2010 to healthcare providers for beds it did not use.  The authority said then that it was “worried” by the figure paid to health firms Anchor and Care UK but was working to renegotiate the contracts.  “Under the terms of the contracts, the council pays the companies for the use of  1,000 beds. Last year, about 10% of those beds were not needed.”

How long has this been going on?

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Why I despise the so-called system of care for vulnerable people

I’ve been fairly controlled over recent weeks, months or even years.  I suppose I’ve been waiting and hoping for a chink of light to emerge, for a culture change to emerge, for a way forward to emerge in the so-called system of care that we have allowed to be in place.

However, I am reaching screaming point.  Hardly surprising.  When someone is destroyed because of absent systems of protection, and when it then takes almost 5 years to work your way through to a full understanding of why the so-callled system of care for vulnerable people fails to provide decent care so very often – that’s when you reach screaming point.

Time and time again, the CQC comes up with yet another report as it did today, with a report into the ‘care’ afforded to people with learning disabilities.  Or rather the lack of  care.  I’ve read it all, but there’s not much hope for real change.

Week and month after week and month, our government comes up with …… not one single plan to improve things.

Year after year, the same old same old same old gets published in the press, reported on radio, featured on TV.

Still nothing changes, so I need to scream now.  It won’t change anything – but it may just help me to scream.

[Next section of this particular blog post: Deleted temporarily pending the return of sense to the world of care.]

Therewith, I will leave this one for today.  But not for long.

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Filed under abuse, accountability, care, care homes, Care UK, dementia care, Islington, justice, liability, Local Authority, neglect, nursing, personal responsibility, professional responsibility, suffering

What is this thing called care?

It makes me angry to read the BBC report that Ken Maitland, who had dementia, was visited in his own home by 106 different care workers in one single year.  Jeannette Maitland started to write a list of the names of the assorted care workers so that she could get to know them.

I did exactly as Jeanette Maitland did when my own relative with dementia began to receive so-called support in her own home.  She lived alone then, so I hoped that if I got to know the names of the people visiting her, I’d be able to talk to her about them and encourage her to accept their support.  Before long, I was distressed to find that – within the space of just 2 weeks – she was visited by 14 different ‘names’.   She had been allocated just two daily visits from one carer at each visit.  I could only imagine how distressed she must have felt too.  I spoke to the local council but they weren’t interested.  The social worker did nothing to help.

When she moved into extra-care sheltered housing, the social worker assured me that the problem would be removed, because the Housing Group that owned and ran the housing also owned and ran the on-site domiciliary care agency providing the on-site support 24/7 to the residents, each in their own flat.

By this time, she was in need of 4 visits per day.  She was still paying for her housing and for the visits by the support workers.

The problem was not removed – it was made worse.

“I’m fed up with all these different people coming into my flat” she said to me.

She withdrew.  She started to refuse them access to her flat.   She started to retreat to the bathroom.  She just withdrew.

I spoke this time with the on-site manager of the extra-care sheltered housing.   She said there was nothing she would do because “we like our staff to gain experience”.

I objected to my relative suffering so that the staff could gain experience.

What I didn’t know then, though, was that all the staff from this so-called ‘on-site 24/7 domiciliary care agency’ owned and run by the Housing Group were all acquired from numerous and different agencies, on an ad hoc basis, with no training, no job security, nothing that could be called care.  They were just casual labour.

It was in 2006 and 2007 that my relative encountered the same problems that Ken and Jeannette Maitland experienced far more recently.  Plus ҫa change plus c’est la même chose.  Have we learned nothing about dementia care in the intervening years?  Have we learned nothing?

What kind of animal have we unleashed and allowed it to be called ‘care’?

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To care or not to care?

Imagine the 83-year old person in the following story was your own relative.

The article is here : Islington Gazette – dated 10 February 2012 – a few extracts below:

‘The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) Conduct and Competence Panel is investigating five nurses’ care and treatment of an 83-year-old woman who died after spending around 10 days 
at Lennox House Nursing Home in Durham Road, Islington.

The panel heard this week that the elderly woman was taken to Accident and Emergency at Whittington Hospital in a diabetic coma on December 8, 2007. She died on December 27.

It is alleged that several serious signs of deterioration in the two days leading up to her hospital admission weren’t acted on.

These included agitation and a tendency to lay on the floor – symptoms which retired nurse Sue Bradell-Smith, who carried out the investigation of Lennox House in 2008, said were abnormal and would have made her “very worried”.

Other allegations include a failure to monitor the patient’s condition and diabetes, failing to create a pain management plan and feeding the patient fluids orally although her swallowing difficulties were known.

According to the home’s records, by the evening of December 8 she was suffering with continuous muscle spasms and had dysphasia, an inability to speak – yet it is claimed that the emergency services weren’t called straight away.

NMC’s solicitor John Lucarotti said the treatment provided fell far below what is expected of a nurse.’

How would you feel if you are now being required to understand alleged facts that are totally new to you – almost four-and-a-half years after the death of your relative?

You are now being given to understand that the care home manager was in the building all day long, right through from 8.30 am to 8 pm in the evening – but couldn’t be bothered to get off her backside to attend to one 83- year old in desperate need of care and attention.

You are now being given to understand that a nurse came to see the manager and told her that the 83-year old was not well.  Still the manager did nothing.

You are now being given to understand that nobody involved considers that the care they provided was poor.

You are now being given to understand that the manager didn’t react or even care much when the nurse told her the 83-year old was in spasm, unable to speak, unable to swallow.

Can you imagine how you would be feeling now?

 

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Filed under abuse, accountability, Care UK, dementia care, Islington, liability, neglect, personal responsibility, professional responsibility