If, as I suspect, the Comprehensive Spending Review allows the growth of independent care providers, my plea to everyone involved, in a professional or personal capacity, is to keep on demanding quality care. Shout loudly and clearly, with the emphasis on the words quality care. Until, that is, we achieve a standard of domiciliary care and residential care that we can be proud to call care. Then keep a watchful eye.
The case of Jamie Merrett 37-year-old tetraplegic patient, who suffered brain damage when his ventilator was switched off by mistake at his home in Devizes, Wiltshire last year, is disturbing on many levels. Sadly, there are numerous others who suffer the consequences of equally appalling care.
The Nursing & Midwifery Council code Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives requires a registered nurse to ‘recognise and work within the limits’ of his/her competence. As far as I’m aware, that includes agency nurses as well.
Both Violetta Aylward and Ambition 24hours (the agency that provided her services to Jamie Merrett) share the responsibility for their actions. I just hope that Ambition 24hours does not escape suitable punishment. ‘One of the leading UK nursing agencies, Ambition 24hours, part of the A24Group, specialises in the provision of specialist nursing jobs for registered nurses and healthcare assistants for both temporary and permanent placement within NHS Trusts, private hospitals, nursing and residential homes, HMP Prison services, mental health and learning disability environments’.
Ambition 24hours needs to revise its ambition and to make care and control of itself its Number 1 ambition. Only then should Ambition 24hours be given the right to provide care to vulnerable people.
It is not unknown for care home nurses/agency nurses/care workers to be well aware of the fact that their manager is making demands of them to carry out duties for which they are unqualified, untrained and unsupervised. The culture of care is such that they carry on regardless. The Patient Resident suffers the consequences – and perhaps dies as a result.
Then, everyone sticks together with the kind of superglue that takes years to dissolve. That’s what creates the foul smell of the ‘for profit’ culture – if you will forgive my language.
The nurse is protected by the manager or agency; the manager’s protected by the care provider’s regional manager; the regional manager’s protected by the care provider; the local authority’s ‘bed manager’ is protected by the commissioning department; the local authority’s protected by the LGO; they’re all protected by CQC – and so it goes on. Every single one of them has another layer of protection.
All except The Patient Resident, that is, and The Patient Resident has no layer of protection at all. By the time the superglue comes out to cement all the guilty layers, The Patient Resident is beyond protection. Too late did they all care. Too late for The Patient Resident.
It’s only if you have the inner strength to spend 3 years or more, peeling away each of the layers that you discover the root cause. Nobody cared enough to ensure that each and every single layer was fit for purpose.
A for-profit multinational care provider or agency can import care workers from abroad who have only a minimal command of the language of those they are to provide care to, little knowledge of our health and social care systems, little incentive to go that extra mile. They have no job security, are paid a minimum wage, dare not speak the word abuse or neglect – they too are abused.
Unless, like John Adeleye, former dementia care worker/care home activity co-ordinator – recently departed from X Factor – the good publicity for his for-profit care provider former employer suddenly causes the care provider to care about him. I hope he received a fat bonus from his former employer, Care UK, or at least a golden handshake for the good publicity he gave.
Care home charges are sky high for The Patient Resident. The Patient Resident is in need of care, so places their trust in the word ‘care’. Neither The Patient Resident, nor his/her family, can possibly know the ins and outs of the care industry, at the very moment when they are looking for quality care. It is only after a tragedy that the real truth emerges. There was no such thing as care able to be provided. But nobody noticed. Nobody cared enough to notice.
Today, I’ve been reading about this new initiative called the Dementia Action Alliance made up of over 40 organisations committed to transforming the quality of life of people living with dementia in the UK and the millions of people who care for them. Signatories to the Declaration have published their own Action Plans setting out what they each will do to secure these outcomes and improve the quality of life of people with dementia by 2014.
Why should it take you all that long? Dementia’s been around for a century now, or rather it’s over a century since one form of dementia was given the name Alzheimer’s by Alois Alzheimer. This troublesome elderly population has been growing older by the day for best part of a century too. Get a move on!!
It’s interesting to note how many care providers are promising to provide the kind of care we all thought they were supposed to have been providing for years now! Care UK even has the nerve to write into its own action plan: Whilst training has been recognised nationally as a key driver in achieving improved standards of care and delivery of care that is outcome focused, there is limited funding available to deliver this training – well, I could suggest a source of funding to you. Have a look into your own company’s profits. Have a look at all the profit you must have made from ‘cutting corners’ here and there and … round the corner. Or even take a few of the £millions of compensation you have pulled in from the numerous contracts you failed to deliver, but for which you had negotiated 25-year contracts. You’ll probably get more compensation from this latest one in Newcastle.
The Department of Health (DoH) and several care home groups have promised to reduce the use of anti-psychotic drugs to subdue dementia sufferers. The use of ‘chemical cosh’ drugs for dementia patients will be cut and sufferers kept out of hospital beds, an unprecedented coalition of 45 organisations has pledged. Please don’t leave that until 2014 too.
GET A MOVE ON!!!!
The Patient Resident and The Patient Resident’s family may not have the time to wait for you all to get a move on!!!!