Care in the UK – 5 years on – Part 1

Five years to the day after you died, I am now able to tell the world of the circumstances surrounding your sad death.  I’ve had to keep it fairly close to my heart for reasons that will become obvious.

You arrived at Lennox House, a so-called care home provided by so-called care provider Care UK, in Islington/Holloway, London on 28 November 2007, having spent the previous 4 months incarcerated (against my will, and against your will too) in a hellhole of an assessment unit.  Your vascular dementia was too challenging for all but you.  The extra-care sheltered housing recommended as eminently suitable for you was eminently unsuitable for everyone, with or without dementia.  Thanks to the Notting Hill Housing Group, and thanks also to Islington Council’s commissioning department who didn’t seem to know what they’d commissioned.

So, within a year of what they called ‘independent living’ but which was, in reality, ‘independent dying’, we were persuaded to agree to you and all your needs being assessed.  How wrong we were.  But we had no way of knowing, of course, that the social worker was not being HOT – honest, open and transparent.  Your needs weren’t assessed at all.  You were merely drugged up to the eyeballs, to keep you controlled.  Within 3 months – when even a couple of the staff asked us why you were there, when you were so lively, cheerful and chatty, even though you quite rightly wanted to get out of the place – you became a gibbering idiot.  We were given the big refusal when we asked what medications you were being given that could have had such a dramatic impact on you, in just a few weeks.  We persevered and discovered that you were on Buprenorphine, an opioid painkiller.  That was one hell of a kick in the teeth, for you; you’d only ever taken paracetamol before to deal with your back pain.  But your back pain turned out to be osteoporosis.  So I extend my thanks to your GPs who never bothered to look further than their noses, until we insisted on further investigation.  Not that it was severe enough for that kind of painkiller.

Then along came Amitryptiline, alongside the Buprenorphine,  and they worked their evil on you.   There was nothing we could do.  Nobody would listen to us.

We wanted to move you away from that assessment unit.  I told the social worker in August 2007 that if they kept you there for long, you would die. I wasn’t far wrong, was I? But the social worker knew best, even though she’d only known you for months of your 83 years. Aided and abetted by her superiors, kept you there, until such time as the Mental Capacity Act came into full force on 1 October 2007.  We were told that if we didn’t like the decision made – by a show of hands at a ward meeting to which we were not even invited, but people who’d met you only once were able to show their vote – we could do the other: take it to the Court of Protection.  Thanks here to Doug Wilson, Phoebe Masso and a few others who were all involved in this strange kind of decision-making in their best interests, but not in your best interests..   We started to fill in all the appropriate forms for the Court of Protection.

We couldn’t bear to see you suffer.  So we agreed to your move to Lennox House so-called care home, so called state-of-the-art ‘flagship’ care home, the way forward for dementia care.  You arrived there, in the nursing section, on 28 November 2007, awaiting a bed in the residential section.  Your needs were then not for nursing care.  Still upstanding, still able to ask us questions, still able to say that you wanted to go home.  But it was clear to us that we would never be able to achieve that for you.  We spent the first few days with you, hoping that you’d settle and be able to regain your strength, and the fighting spirit you’d shown all your life.  83 years and a bit of a great life.

We phoned daily and were told you were settling in well; walking the corridors – that was your normal, as someone who could never sit still for long.  Always doing something, always on the move, always active.

Ten days later, at 0915 on Saturday 8 December 2007, we received a phone call telling us that you’d been admitted to the Whittington Hospital’s A&E department, as you were in spasm, had a possible seizure, and that you were needing oxygen “and we can’t give her oxygen here”.  That’s what Lennox House told us.  Before we left home to head for London, I took another phone call.  This time from the Whittington doctor, telling me that we would have to make serious decisions about the degree of intervention they should take.  The A&E Consultant told me that you were unlikely to live beyond that day.

He didn’t know you, though.  You managed to cling to life for another 3 weeks, before giving up your fight.  Before you lost your fight, I began asking questions as to what on earth could have happened in the 7 days since I saw you last.

I first asked the Alzheimer’s Society for help when I first realised that something had gone seriously wrong.  They refused me any assistance at all, saying that they didn’t get involved in this “kind of thing”.  I explained that I wasn’t asking them to get involved, just to point me in the direction of help and support.  That’s what I understood the Alzheimer’s Society to be all about.  But I didn’t know then as much as I know now about the Alzheimer’s Society’s  close connections to local authorities, and to care providers.  Nor had I then been told by a couple of the Alzheimer’s Society’s representatives that they thought I was what they called a troll, who had never had any connections with dementia, with social services, with care homes, and so on.  They have continued with that kind of unkind care too.  So I extend my thanks to the Alzheimer’s Society for showing me that they don’t really care.

I decided to go it alone from then on, expecting no support from anyone, but accepting any support that came my way.  For the support that came, I will be forever grateful.  As for the support refused or contorted by lies, I will be forever perplexed.

It’s taken me 5 years to get answers to some but by no means all of my questions.  Many will never be answered because people in positions of power seem not to understand those little HOT words: honest, open and transparent.  I’ve never heard so many untruths told.  And still being told too, after all this time.  So it’s not over yet.

Two separate investigations have taken place into the circumstances surrounding your neglect in care, with 2 very different reports emerging from them.

Last week, the NMC made some decisions, about the staff employed by Care UK and working then at Lennox House.

Catherine Igbokwe was struck off by the NMC.   She will never do to others what she did to you.

Maria Rholyn Secuya (nee Baquerfo) was given a 3 year caution order by the NMC.  She will have to be on her best behaviour.

Sheila Ali, the care home manager/nurse, is challenging the decision made thus far by the NMC, so her barrister has decided to seek approval for a Judicial Review. In the interim, she has a 9 month suspension order – but that may change.

The case of Dahlia Dela  Cerna (nee Enriquez) has been adjourned until next year.

This is all available on the NMC website of Hearings/Outcomes for 17 to 21 December 2012.  Available here in the public domain.

As are these two articles that appeared in the press:

8 August 2008 – Daily Mail article here.  “Care home boss suspended after dead bodies of two pensioners ‘are left for days’.”

Yesterday, 28 December 2012 – Islington Gazette article by Meyrem Hussein here.  “Pensioner ‘is left in agony for days’ at Holloway care home”.

So, that’s where I’ve got to, five years to the day after your departure from this world.

You deserved better care.

(To be continued)

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Care in the UK – 5 years on – Part 1

  1. Too late for some who deserved and deserve so much better, know that you, and others still fighting, are not alone.
    The system is designed to divide and ensure we fall and fail.
    But it is one based on a different time, where those in power controlled everything, including our ability to share and unite.
    And in so doing we gain strength that grows beyond the sum of each individual, and it is a strength that will break down the barriers that protect and hide some individuals who should be very worried indeed.
    The bad times for good people are coming to an end.

    • careintheuk

      Thanks, Peter, for your lovely words. I know you’re there with me all the way, as I know are others too. I’ve been able to handle most things life throws at me. It’s the lies that I find hardest to deal with; lies told by cowards. That’s why my Blog will tell the truth. I owe that to all those who have had to walk a similar route, in the name of care and justice.

      I do so hope you’re right about the bad times for good people coming to an end. The sooner the better for all of us.

  2. misspiggie2012

    Oh how I hope Peter is right but I fear he is not. The answer I don’t know. The answers should not though be difficult and they should come from the Authorities we SHOULD be able to trust. The big question is why can we not trust them. Why is it necessary for good honest upstanding citizens of this country to have to battle for their and their loved ones rights? My heart and my head is with you. The Press need to be consistent in their reporting Of these cases Not report, ignore, report, ignore. They need to find the strength we have found. Good should triumph over evil but how I just don’t know. Who cares-certainly not the people who should be caring – all they care about is money!

    • careintheuk

      Could it all be to do with cowardice and their position-of-power, misspiggie2012? I think they’ve all got their heads so far stuck into their paperwork, ( I nearly said up their ….there!) forgetting that real people are on the receiving end of whatever paperwork they may fabricate. I use the word ‘fabricate’ because I’ve seen more fabricated records than I would wish to paper the walls with.

      We’ve all been forgotten along their way, so much so that they don’t know a lie when they fall over it, or even when it trips them up. That said, it takes others to recognise the untruths told along the way. If they’ve all been schooled to become blinded by their untruths, they will never see the light of truth.

  3. Your final words say it all for me… “You deserved better care”… that is so so true, the UK care system really does treat our older people appallingly. But I truly believe that the tide is turning… more and more people are beginning to challenge what they are told.

    You should be very, very proud that your tenacity has been instrumental in ensuring that justice is served and other vulnerable people will be safe from suffering any neglect at the hands of these particular so called ‘caring professionals’. Yes there is still so much more to be done, and I can totally understand your torment at this latest headline… but their time will come… call it karma, just desserts, whatever… what goes around comes around, you reap what you sow!

    Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and there are many good people who do know this is wrong and will do all that they can to stop it xxxx

  4. bexleyboy7

    I, too, hope Peter is right but share misspiggie’s fear. I agree so much with your last sentence. My experience leads me to great worry about the level of care that goes on when we all go home from the care home (i.e. behind closed doors). It isn’t all as bad as those cases that hit the headlines. BUT, any falling short of good care is NOT ACCEPTABLE.
    The level of training leaves much to be desired (and the level of wages). Here’s an ‘insignificant’ story but a very telling one: I visited my friend on Christmas Eve and asked a care assistant if they had had the norovirus. She replied that she hadn’t. I was asking about the home! It showed me that the centre of concern is not the residents but the staff. To be fair, I put this down to the general ambiance of the care home, the general lack of management/leadership that should make the care person-centred rather than task-oriented. It’s not good enough.
    All power to your elbow – and to all who are fighting for the rights of their loved-ones.

  5. Edna Fletcher

    I really am upset and angry that not only is this your experience, but it is clearly one that is all too common for far too many even today. Nothing has changed, except the ‘cuts’ are used as an excuse for incompetence and indifference- all the while careers are still made at the top.

    Power held with those in the medical and social care positions, in whom the vulnerable and their families put their trust, I too have learnt, from ‘damage caused’, is highly dangerous. The Mental Capacity Act and the coercive and inconsistent and unclear nature of safeguarding work has added to the seriously deficient approaches to care of the most vulnerable. The conflict of interest lies in the same organisations investigating issues being themselves responsible for the ‘commissioned care’. Abuse by ‘care staff’ is not as well investigated or robustly dealt with as are families who have found not to have abused; a serious case review report in my local authority highlighted the failure in a tragic case recently.

    Social workers lie all the time, I was mildly surprised to discover I was not the only one with this experience who had resorted in my local authority area to tape recording conversations (even telephone ones). Trust no one.

    Fortunately the person I care for, by sheer luck, escaped the clutches of social services care home incarceration, but the damage to two vulnerable persons and myself had been done by then.

    Like you, our host, I have spent 3.5 years trying to gather an understanding how things came to be, and remain, so ‘dark’. I spent over a year in depression. The information to piece the facts/ evidence has not been easy to obtain and the director of adult services I have realised is at all costs avoiding being ‘held up for public scrutiny’. There was a serious failure to gather all relevant information held before taking serious life changing actions, which amounts to the most seriously bad social work investigation in safeguarding.

    But who can help? MP’s? mine is a jobsworth and is not one to challenge public institutions. I found lawyers are unwilling or a few worms wanting money for very little. The big organisations such as Alzheimer’s are just uninterested in harm caused to vulnerable elders and their carers; their staff need jobs. We can go to hell and die it seems.

    If more of us could speak to each other and seriously share experiences we might be a powerful force for challenging a system that is harmful to the vulnerable and those that do care. But the secrecy and lack of accountability of the system as you have shown is the major obstacle to effecting a strong independent voice to raise awareness of something largely hidden. 5 Years on and you are still having to wait for further answers.

  6. Bob

    Same thing happened to my grandmother killed by social services. I fought for four years against social services and ended up in the court of protection racket where I was threatened with a prison term and a £1m bill if I continued to fight in court. I was up against the lies of social services, care management and psychiatrists all of whom claimed my grandmother had dementia when she protested against being forced into a care home against her will. The aim of social services was to rob her of her assets to pay for care she did not need and once the family became a threat to social services they had to be crushed at all costs but that failed. The LA was found guilty of human rights abuse but ‘on best interests’ my grandmother was forced to stay in a care home which had abused and neglected her and the family were banned from seeing her again ‘in her best interests’ but she continued to fight. In the end to save money as they had failed to take her assets she was left to starve to death by the care home and ended up in hospital. Again the care home lied about the events that resulted in her being taken to hospital. I was told she was at deaths door but she lived for 2 weeks after being placed on a ‘path way to death’ which was nothing more than a slow death with out food, drink or medical care but with increasing doses of morphine. She was killed by the State to protect a corrupt borough council, its staff, a psychiatrist and the staff of a care home run run by an ex-social worker.

  7. Pingback: HOT Care in the UK | Care in the UK

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