Category Archives: dementia

The value of a life in a care home

The Health & Safety Executive publishes a very sad story here and it is indeed a message to all those – including care providers –  who fail to understand the importance of systems, care plans, risk assessments, record-keeping, staff training and communication.  To mention but a few.

“The UK’s biggest care home provider has been ordered to pay £170,000 in fines and costs after a vulnerable resident choked to death on fish and chips during an entertainment evening at its Chorley premises.”

“The company, of Groves Road in Douglas, Isle of Man, was fined £125,000 and ordered to £45,000 towards the cost of the prosecution.”

“Our hope is that the seriousness and financial implications of this case for the company will ensure that nothing like this will ever happen again at a Four Seasons or any other care home. This would mean that Rita’s tragic death will not have been entirely in vain.”

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Care Circus is back in town next week

Well, here we go again.

Next week the Care Circus is back in town.

The latest batch of NMC hearings is about to stir its loins again and get on with the work that it was charged with handling long ago on 1 October 2008.  That was only a few very short months after you died, thanks to the rubbish care that came your way, courtesy of Care UK and Lennox House so-called care home in Islington, London.

It was also a few very short months after I’d asked so many questions of Islington’s Mental Health Care of Older People team, and then Islington’s Social Services, and then the CQC (or CSCI as it was called back at the beginning of 2008), and the Coroner’s Office, and Islington’s Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults Team, and  most of all of Care UK … well, you will know how many questions I asked of them all, each and every one of them.

They don’t like answering questions, do they?  Especially if those demanding but necessary questions are likely to cast a very dim and dark shadow over their (lack of) accomplishments.

Last December 2012, the NMC decided that one nurse involved in your demise should be struck off, from their register of nurses allowed to nurse in the UK.  Another nurse was delivered a 3 year caution order, requiring her to be on her best behaviour.

Next week, 15 to 19 April 2013,  the Circus is back in town.  Fifteen months after the NMC hearings first started, looking in depth at the circumstances surrounding your rapid decline, within 10 days of arrival in that so-called care home, Lennox House, and your admission to hospital in a diabetic coma.  You died 3 weeks later.

The  final 2 cases, still waiting in the wings, are to be dealt with by the NMC next week.

One case  is that of the care home manager, who is mid-way through an interim 9 months suspension order, placed to allow time for her to seek permission for a Judicial Review in the High Court, of the NMC decisions thus far.  The High Court refused permission to seek a Judicial Review.

The clowns will all be wearing their costumes.  Their faces will all be heavily disguised beneath the cake of their make-up.  They will all have their props to support them.  Their scripts will all have been written, re-written and then written again.  Edited, heavily edited, and then edited again.

You weren’t allowed to write a script of  your own, were you?  Let alone edit it.

The script of your final years, months and weeks of your life was snatched from you.  Grabbed by thugs.  The uncaring, unqualified, untrained, unmonitored, unsupervised, unsuitable thugs who were charged with the most basic and fairly simple duty of looking after you.

Next week, they will still be wearing their masks, their costumes  and their heavy make-up.

As they will continue to do year after year.  Uncaring as always.  Unkind in their presentation thus far.  Unwilling to admit that they failed miserably in their duty of care to you, for you and about you.  They didn’t care enough to care.

The chance to wear your dresses, your gentle make-up and to present your smiling face to the world was taken from you.  By the thugs of care.  The thieves of care.  The robbers of care.

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Alzheimer’s Society and the Horse fraternity

Over recent months or even years, many people have become irritated, bemused, frustrated, confused and perplexed by the Alzheimer’s Society’s online chat room also known as Talking Point.  Posts have been dumbed down and members dumbfounded by many of the decisions made by the appointed representatives of the Alzheimer’s Society, working and operating its online forum.

Many people were hoping that things had changed, once the Alzheimer’s Society had rid itself of what it perceived to be irritating members who were brave enough to challenge the Administrative nonsense going on.  Similar to the way that Julie  Bailey and ‘Cure the NHS’ have challenged the brick walls of care, resulting at long last in the Francis Report.

It is so easy for the Alz Soc to ban forum members who challenged the ignorant actions of its Administrators and Moderators.  The Alz Soc compromised many members by editing and/or deleting their posts, even if they only referred to Winterbourne View, or … wait for it …. the British Geriatric Society, or even Peter Carter of the RCN.  All mentions were obliterated without being able to be questioned by the members.   Members who posted about BSE or CJD and dementia-linked situations were also deleted and obliterated.

It was all too uncomfortable for the Alzheimer’s Society to contemplate such matters.

It is far too comfortable for the Alzheimer’s Society to silence those members who had the guts to challenge matters.

It makes  me wonder how the Alz Soc will react if/when the latest horse-meat scandal comes to evidence a connection between dementia and the introduction into the human food supply of a drug called Phenylbutazone – a drug that is now only used in the care of horses but which was  previously used in the care of human beings who also happened to have arthritic/rheumatic joint problems.  The experimental use of Phenylbutazone in humans was disastrous and resulted in death, and it also resulted in Phenylbutazone being banned for use in human beings suffering from arthritis/rheumatism.  That was circa 1975, so it’s possible that any use of Phenylbutazone now in human beings is heavily restricted, controlled and monitored.  I hope so.

The Alz Soc shed the skin of those that it felt irritated by, namely those who posted examples of sub-standard care.  All mention of Winterbourne View was eradicated from the forum, as were posts mentioning Southern Cross, to name but a few.

Almost overnight, it became acceptable for people to name Stafford Hospital, to call social services ‘social circuses’, to talk of ‘lies and more lies’ when referring to social care systems that the posters had come by.  Even mention of MPs was suddenly allowed, whereas previous posts mentioning similar had been edited and/or deleted.  So members were thinking that things may be changing and on the up.

The forum Administrators and Moderators prod and poke and provoke.  Until such time as the Alzheimers’s Society’s appointed Administrators and Moderators can ban thinking members.  It’s so much more comfortable for the Alz Soc to leave its own comfort zone untouched and unsullied by those Members of the Alz Soc who would like questions to be answered.

The latest example goes beyond the acceptable when it comes to caring about dementia.  [I choose not to use the word Alzheimer’s because it denies recognition of all other forms of dementia.  It also sweeps away most of the important factor that people living in the UK care about at present.]

It is all swept away by someone who has no idea what it means to be trying to achieve quality care in the UK.

Here, the Alzheimer’s Society’s online Talking Point forum:

“While this may be your view, that’s all it is – your view. Some care homes may be like this, some are not. To state that all of anything is untrustworthy is inappropriate in my view.”

Is that the view of the Alzheimer’s Society?  Is it the view of an appointed Alzheimer’s Society person?  Is that the point of view of someone who has not one single clue about what it means to be living in the UK with dementia and caring about those who are living in the UK with dementia, let alone those who are living in the UK and still dealing with the care home system that is so sadly lacking in quality and standards of care.

It is the point of view of someone – an online forum Moderator,  appointed by the Alzheimer’s Society –  who has never had any direct experience of the care home system in the UK, who has never had any experience of social services in the UK, who has never had any dealings with that which most people are dealing with when it comes to care in the UK.

But someone who  is still given full reign to spout about that which affects every single person living in the UK.

A virtual Queen of the World.

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More Alzheimer’s Society madness

There’s a lull in proceedings at present so I’ve been analysing my Blog stats and the search engine terms people use before finding me.  Fascinating reading it makes too.   The searches range from ‘fugitive nuns on the run in France’ via ‘do I have to declare that I’ve been removed from the NMC register if I apply for a job  as a nurse in a care home?’ to ‘what is a stalking horse?’ and  ‘what’s it like to work for the Alzheimer’s Society forum?’.  With a sprinkling of the obvious essay questions such as ‘describe how issues of public concern have altered public views of the care sector’ and ‘what does vicarious liability mean in nursing?’.

I’ve written  a few words about all of the above  – yes, even Nuns on the run- the alternative to residential care  – but I don’t seem to have mentioned what it must be like to work for the Alzheimer’s Society forum.  So here goes, and I confess here and now that I can only comment on the qualities you may need, Dear Searcher, rather than the reality of the life of a moderator or administrator on the Alzheimer’s Society’s Talking Point forum.

This selection of posts by moderators may give you an idea of the heartless, cruel person you need to become, if you are to succeed.

Moderator  1 starts a thread with: “Do not feed the troll. …. because they are cowards …. they never write over (sic!)  their own name and often reveal their trolliness (sic!) in the chosen ID.  ….. Trolls rarely answer a direct question – they cannot, if asked to justify their twaddle – so they develop a fine line of missing the point.” ( Mod 1 then cites Wikipedia as the source of her wisdom, so you had better change your thinking, Dear Searcher, and acknowledge Wiki as a source of wisdom.)

Moderator  2: “Thank you … we learn something every day …. 😎 …. and here was I thinking a troll lived under a bridge.”  (Sarcasm is a requirement for a successful application, Dear Searcher.)

Member interrupts this indelicate and immoderate session: “I’m just about to send you a PM (Private Message).”  (You will soon learn the power of the PM system, used and abused by Moderators galore, as they spread their message to their fan-club.)

Moderator 3: “It is my belief we currently have a troll posting to Talking Point.  This is a person who has mental health issues …. Our troll’s aim is destruction, pure and simple.  …. Make no mistake, they don’t even recognize they have a problem.  Sad but true.”  (So, Dear Searcher, you will also need to be as cruel as this moderator can be, even when she has declared openly that she has been taking medication for years for her depression.  Hardly surprising – she spends her whole life moderating the forum immoderately.  Perhaps that is another part of the job description.)

Moderator 1: “I agree with every single point you have made.  That’s why I started this thread.”  (Never disagree with Moderator 3 – that is not allowed.)

Moderator 4: “Thank you …. and thanks for starting this thread.  It’s reassuring to know the facts about trolls.”  (By now, Dear Searcher, you will realise that you need to demonstrate that you have the inner qualities of a dog, the kind of dog used for hunting foxes, now banned as a recreational pastime in the UK.)

Moderator 5: “It’s not me!”

Moderator 3 snaps rudely at a member who has a seriously ill husband and who is upset by this thread but who doesn’t know how to do quotes: “Can I ask something, B,  … because I’ve been wondering?  Do you not know how to do quotes or can’t you be bothered?”  (Rudeness is a requirement.)

Member replies to Moderator 3: “It might have escaped your notice but we, (husband) and I need help.  As do lots of others who are not so verbal as you are.  …. You do not listen!’

Moderator 3 replies to same distressed TP member: “Look, …. We have a person posting on the board who the moderators have good reason to believe is not trustworthy.  In the past, members have exchanged email addresses with this person only to be harassed by them.”

NB.  I have it on good authority that was a lie from Moderator 3, and that the person in question had never harassed anyone by PM or by email.  Moderator 3 then went on to tell more lies. but that’s what Moderator 3 has a nasty habit of doing, all in her own best interests, of course.

This unsavoury and tasteless exchange of posts, largely by moderators but with a few normal interjections by normal TP members, went on for some 70 posts or so, with mention being made by an administrator of the police almost having been called in to deal with this person’s allegedly threatening emails and PMs.  (Telling outrageous untruths is another requirement.  But of course, once you become an Alzheimer’s Society appointed moderator, you will be beyond challenge.  You will be allowed to get away with virtual murder, and there’s nothing the normal membership can do about that.  You will soon adapt to the slaughterhouse that is called Talking Point.)

These are just a few of the qualities you may need, Dear Searcher, if you are to want to apply to work on the Alzheimer’s Society’s online forum.  Surely the Alzheimer’s Society cannot be proud of allowing its moderators and administrators to post like that on what is supposed to be a forum providing support and care for its members.  The Alzheimer’s Society ignores totally the voice of the members.

But fear not, Dear Searcher, the Alzheimer’s Society received a big fat donation of more than £670,000 from Santander in 2011 to fund the online forum Talking Point for 3 years.  It pays for an annual gathering in London of the moderators, the one living  in the US, the one living in Canada, and all the others in the UK, all expenses paid, of course.

Compare and contrast that £670,000 being squandered on a sometimes sad and feeble chat-room, dominated by Moderator 3, with the fact that the Alzheimer’s Society is now planning to charge  dementia sufferers £10  to receive a befriending visit from a Volunteer Befriender.  That’s £10 per visit.   The Alzheimer’s Society says that dementia sufferers can apply for and use a Personal Budget from their local authority to pay for the visit.  That decision is not being received well be the Alzheimer’s Society’s online forum  supporters.  They are voicing their objections here. 

Funny way to run a charity.

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Care in the UK over two weeks in December 2012

1 December 2012: TENS of thousands of vulnerable people are being physically and mentally abused by the very people meant to be caring for them. Disturbing figures reveal that 130,000 adults were ill treated – usually at the hands of carers or family. Abuse most often took place in their own home or care home.  Read more here.

1 December 2012: Abuse of elderly patients by NHS staff rises by a third in one year with a  shocking 36,000 offences reported last year alone.  Read more here.

1 December 2012: Care home regulation criticised by Norman Lamb.  Regulation of the care sector is not fit for purpose, care minister Norman Lamb has said as he unveiled proposals on English care homes for consultation. He also said there was a “significant lack of corporate accountability for the quality of care”. One suggested measure involves companies having to open up their books to inspectors to ensure they are financially sound. Read more here.

1 December 2012: Care home companies could be forced to open books to prevent another ‘Southern Cross’ collapse.  Read more here.

4 December 2012: Care home job advertisements ‘encouraging’ criminals to apply.  Convicted criminals have been encouraged to apply for jobs in care homes looking after frail, elderly people.  Read more here.

4 December 2012: Ann Clwyd, Labour MP tells of inhumane treatment and says she fears normalisation of cruelty now rife among NHS nurses.  Ann Clwyd has said her biggest regret is that she didn’t “stand in the hospital corridor and scream” in protest at the “almost callous lack of care” with which nurses treated her husband as he lay dying in the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.  Read more here.

4 December 2012: Melton Court care home to be closed by Friday. The manager of a South Yorkshire care home, which has been ordered to close by Friday, says she is in talks with two potential new providers. The 21 residents at Melton Court in Maltby have to find new homes, after it emerged the owner is in prison. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) revoked Ishtiaq Zahir’s licence and said the home is operating illegally.  Read more here.

5 December 2012: A PENSIONER with Alzheimer’s died after she plunged down a lift shaft when the door was left unsecured, a court heard yesterday. Annfield Plain company faces health and safety charges after tragedy.   Read more here.

5 December 2012: Wrexham – Concerns over care at mental health hospital.  Read more here.

6 December 2012: Leicester – Dementia sufferer ‘left in agony’ at George Hythe House care home in Beaumont Leys, court hears.  An 89-year-old dementia sufferer was left in agony for four hours with a broken thigh  because a care home supervisor could not be bothered to assess her, a   jury heard. Sarah Bewley was “too busy” doing paperwork to see the woman after she suffered a fall, despite several requests from a care assistant, it was claimed.  Read more here.  See below.

7 December 2012: Regulator moves closer to setting up ‘negative register’ of adult care staff.   If the proposals are approved by government, a national code of conduct would be applied to workforce and the HCPC would consider serious complaints made about individual professionals; any decisions to uphold a complaint would be made public, as would the resulting sanction.

A “negative register” would be maintained of those found unfit to practise.  Read more here.

7 December 2012:  Leicester – Jury clears Leicester care home boss of neglect charge.  After the not guilty verdict was announced, Judge Lynn Tayton QC said: “This case raises very worrying issues, particularly concerning systems that seemed to be in place which created a situation in which no-one took responsibility for the care of this lady.  “She was left in severe and unnecessary pain for a number of hours.”I hope those in charge of the home have looked at the systems and the staff training.” Read more here.

7 December 2012:   Chorley, Lancs – A care-home worker and her husband who subjected  their children to years of horrific abuse were facing jail yesterday after being  convicted of cruelty.  Read more here.
8 December 2012: Wolverhampton – An investigation has been launched into safeguarding at a care home, which helps people with mental health, drugs and alcohol problems.  Read more here.
8 December 2012: Derby – A national health watchdog has issued a damning report on a privately-run Derby care home.  The Care Quality Commission has told the company  that owns Cleeve Villas Nursing Home, in Wilson Street, to do more to protect the safety and welfare of residents – or face legal action.  Among the problems identified were:
  • No organised stock control system of medicines
  • Failure of staff to update crucial medical documents
  • Care plans reviews not completed on time
  • Failure to ensure prescribed medicines were always available
  • Medicine doses not being documented, meaning it was unclear whether medications had been administered
  • No appropriate systems in place for the safe disposal of medicines when they were no longer required.

Read more here.

Read the CQC report on Cleeve Villas here.

That list of failures is just the kind of thing most people don’t know about, so  awareness raised to the top is what we need in the world of care.

When it comes to the comment made by the spokeswoman for Cleeve Villas Care Services : “As a dedicated provider of care services, we at Cleeve Villas have taken on board the suggestions from CQC as to how to enhance our overall performance and have already taken steps working with a specialist healthcare consultancy to address these.”Our aim as always is to ensure the individual and complex needs of our residents are met.”

I don’t believe you.  Yet.  This is not the first CQC detailing same/similar problems.   What has taken you so long to show that you care enough to provide good quality care?

9 December 2012: Vulnerable care home residents are treated like “brutes or malfunctioning machines”, said Hilary Mantel, the author, as she spoke of the “utterly depressing” search to find accommodation for a disabled friend.  Read more here.

10 December 2012:  We haven’t a clue how much a care home will cost us.  The vexed question of how we pay for the care needs of Britain’s ageing population rears its ugly head so often that it is no wonder everyone thinks it is a pain in the neck.  Read more here.

10 December 2012: Star ratings: Families need reliable information on care home performance.  Read more here.

10 December 2012: Preventative care for elderly under threat.  Services have been cut or frozen by two-thirds of local councils since coalition came to power, according to ComRes study.  Read more here.

10 December 2012: A Birmingham care home is being investigated by council and health bosses amid  allegations of neglect.  Bramley Court Care Home, in School Road, Yardley Wood, is facing the probe  after a complaint was made about the standard of care given to elderly  residents. New admissions have been suspended while a joint investigation is carried out  by the city council and NHS Birmingham and Solihull.  It is not the first time the home has been in the spotlight over its  treatment of residents. In August a report by watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, found residents  were being put at risk of not receiving adequate food and drink.  Read more here.

10 December 2012: Winterbourne View scandal prompts new care guidelinesReport warns that care sector risks slipping back into institutional culture typified by Victorian asylum system.

The report warns that, elsewhere, staffing cuts caused by reduced fees paid to care providers are causing residents to be left alone for hours at a time and are fostering excessive reliance on use of drugs and on physical restraint, “often for minor perceived misdemeanours”.

Brendan Sarsfield, Family Mosaic’s chief executive, said: “We would argue that if providers don’t believe this has ever happened in their services, it just may be that they haven’t looked hard enough.  Read more here.

10 December 2012: Care home provider Family Mosaic has warned that the care sector is in danger of slipping back into the institutional ways of the past and is urging care providers “not to be complacent” and be vigilant for danger signs of abuse.  Read more here.

10 December 2012: Winterbourne View scandal: Government rethinks use of hospitals.  Norman Lamb said “”We need to have a situation where people who run care organisations – public or private sector or voluntary – know that they are accountable for the services they provide and there are consequences if they don’t.”  You can’t argue with that so let’s home he brings about accountability.  Read more here.

12 December 2012: Copthorne, Sussex – Care home boss suspended over death of patient.  A care home manager has been suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Council over allegations she shredded a document to cover up a mistake which led to the death of a resident. The resident of  Orchid View care home in Copthorne was given three times the prescribed dosage of Warfarin, a drug used to prevent blood clots, over 17 days in 2010. Read more here.

12 December 2012: Stockton care home boss denies a catalogue of failures.  Meal times at the home were “appallingly organised” and 15 out of 17 patients  lost weight over a one-month period, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.  Read more here.

12 December 2012: York care home warned to make urgent improvements.  The Care Quality Commission has issued a formal warning to Mimosa Healthcare (No 4) Limited, which is the registered provider of Birchlands Care Home, that they are failing to protect the safety and welfare of the people using the service.  Read more here.

12 December 2012: Wall Heath care home told to shape up or face enforcement action.  The Care Quality Commision (CQC) is demanding an improvement in the standards of care at Holbeche House after inspectors found failings during an unannounced visit in October.  The Wolverhampton Road home, which is run by Four Seasons (Bamford) Limited, was found to be below standards for the care and welfare of service users and assessing and monitoring the quality of services.  Andrea Gordon, deputy director of operations (central region) for CQC, said: “The law says these are the standards that everyone should be able to expect. Providers have a duty to ensure they are compliant.  Read more here.

12 December 2012: Nurse at Rodborough care home slept with vulnerable female patient and invited another to swingers’ parties. Trevor Rice, a senior triage mental health nurse at Park House Mental Health Resource Centre, was formally removed from his post by a Nursing and Midwifery Council disciplinary committee on November 23.   Read more here.

12 December 2012: A bungling nurse who was cleared to work in Sussex despite making a number of shocking errors is being investigated for a second time.   Nicanor Sindanum made national headlines after he was allowed to continue to work as a nurse despite being found guilty of 17 serious errors by a nursing panel while working in Scotland.   In June this year a nine-month banning order imposed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in September 2011 was revoked and replaced with conditions of practice order.  This meant that, despite his failings, Sindanum was allowed to start work for an Eastbourne care home so long as he told bosses that he had restrictions placed on him. But now it has emerged that Sindanum faces a second investigation for alleged failings dating from 2009.  Read more here.

13 December 2012: Slyne-with-Hest, Lancashire – Four people have been charged with offences under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 following a police investigation into the mistreatment of residents at a care home in Slyne.  Read more here.

13 December 2012: Wales – More should be done to reduce Wales’ reliance on using care homes as a way to look after older people, says a group of Assembly Members.  The assembly’s health committee has backed moves to help people keep their independence for as long as possible. Families need simple and accessible information about the options available for elderly relatives, it said. It pointed out that many elderly people who pay for their own care were unaware of the help available to them.  Read more here.

13 December 202: Panshanger, Welwyn, Herts -Massive arrogance’ jibe as ‘out of scale’ care home plans thrown out.  Read more here.

13 December 2012: Morpeth, Northumberland – Coroner hits out at care of woman in Morpeth home.  Mr Brown, recording a narrative verdict, yesterday concluded the fall “did  play a part” in Mrs McEwan’s death as the fractured femur caused immobility  which made her more susceptible to the fatal complaint. The coroner also found three serious failures in the care of Mrs McEwan.

He ruled senior carer Stephanie Wilson had left Mrs McEwan’s bed in an  elevated position, moments before she fell while trying to get into it.

Furthermore, Mr Brown said staff had failed by phoning a doctor’s surgery  instead of an ambulance after the fall, even though Mrs McEwan was in obvious  pain and in need of such care immediately.

Finally, the coroner said workers had been wrong to lift Mrs McEwan back on  the bed, saying they should have left her where she was comfortable until the  ambulance arrived.

Mr Brown nevertheless accepted that staff had been misguided and in need of  better training rather than motivated by malice.  Read more here.

13 December 2012: Croydon  – Are Croydon care homes up to the job of looking after borough’s most vulnerable?  Nearly a third of care homes in the south of the borough are failing patients and residents in one or more key standard, an Advertiser investigation has found.

Campaigners for better care say the findings paint a “dire” picture for sick and elderly people at a time when savings in care provision are set to be enforced.

Among those that are failing in one or more key standard are homes which charge elderly people up to £800 a week.

Stuart Routledge, chief executive of Age UK Croydon, said: “It is appalling that any nursing home should fail to protect the dignity and respect of their patients and residents.

“This survey underpins the urgency for social care funding reform so that those older people who struggle daily with chronic ill health, frailty and disability have the peace of mind that they will be well cared for at their time of need.

“In particular, this shows the dire consequences of a social care system that has been under increasing financial pressure over the last eight years and in many areas is now financially stripped to the bone.

“Staff across health and care services have a professional and moral duty to make sure the dignity of their patients and residents is enshrined in every action. This means involving people in decisions about their care, providing care that treats people with respect and helping people to be as independent possible.”

Read more here.

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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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Social workers are revolting

Social workers are distraught about the portrayal of social work in Eastenders.  The storyline concerns young Lola, and her baby Lexi, who was removed from her mother’s care by a social worker.

1. Social workers outraged by EastEnders storyline about baby Lexi – more here
“The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) is engaged in a battle with the BBC over a storyline in EastEnders.

Last Friday, the TV soap featured a social worker removing a baby from a teenage mother, Lola, apparently without sufficient grounds to do so.

The BASW immediately condemned the plot. It accused BBC producers of being “too lazy and arrogant” to get their portrayal of the child protection process right.’

2. Fury over Eastenders’ ‘misleading’ social work storyline  – more here

‘An Eastenders plot line has sparked outrage among social workers who have criticised the BBC for misrepresenting their work and putting children at risk.’

I’m not quite sure how 5 minutes (approx)  in total of a fictional TV soap can be seen to be ‘putting children at risk’ but I’ll no doubt get the message eventually.

3. ‘Eastenders’ portrayal of social work left me in tears’  – more here
‘I am sure I am not the only one to feel aggrieved by last Friday’s Eastenders social work story line, not least because accurate procedures were not followed [when a character’s baby was taken away]. Was it police protection, section 20? Where was the immediate risk to the baby? As a social worker, I was in tears, as was a colleague of mine, watching how our profession was portrayed on television.

As a result, I sent a complaint to the BBC ….’

Stick with me – it gets worse.

4. The British Association of Social Workers: – more here
Eastenders demonising social workers – BASW leads fight back
‘BASW has sprung to the defence of the social work profession after being inundated by complaints from members about an EastEnders storyline involving care leaver Lola Pearce having her baby removed by an oppressive social worker Trish Barnes, played by Tessa Churchard.’
‘Commenting on the portrayal Bridget Robb, acting chief executive British Association of Social Workers said: “It is disgraceful to see a publicly funded broadcaster deliberately spreading misinformation about the child protection process because it is too lazy and arrogant to get it right. We regularly give advice to programmes about social work storylines; we would like to know who advised EastEnders so badly.” ‘

Having just watched the episode in question, I wish the social workers in my life had been as harmless as the Eastenders’ social worker character, but more importantly as ‘kind and caring’ as the BASW seems to think they all are in real life.

Eastenders is a soap. It is fiction! Remember,  nobody is suggesting that social workers are all ‘lazy and arrogant’ on occasion/sometimes/frequently/often, are they?  Yet, the BBC scriptwriters are lazy and arrogant, according to BASW.

The reaction from social workers and from the BASW has done more damage to their cause than did the Eastenders episodes.

“Eastenders’ shabby portrayal of an entire profession has made a tough job even tougher”, writes BASW acting Chief Executive.  Talk about over-egging the pudding.  This is a portrayal of one single fictional social worker – not an entire profession – in a TV soap.  It’s not a documentary.

“BASW is also urging all social workers to vote against Eastenders in the National TV Awards, unless the programme’s producers can demonstrate a proper understanding of why the portrayal has invited such concern among social workers.”  Is that a mature response to a problem, or is it a childish foot-stamping reaction?

BASW quotes a whole load of abusive Tweets about the Eastenders episode in question – without providing any evidence of the reasons for those tweets, or the background of ‘who’ tweeted ‘what’ – but if it’s in the best interests of BASW, that makes it OK, does it?  Not in my view.

Perhaps BASW doesn’t need evidence.

Perhaps BASW and social workers really are lazy and arrogant.

Perhaps BASW and social workers have memory problems – they seem to spout the same ‘excuses’ when it comes to criticism of their profession, even when that criticism comes from Judges.

As here  just a couple of years ago.   ‘Courts distrust evidence from social workers.  Judges delay decisions in urgent cases affecting vulnerable children to hear from other experts, says report.  Courts are refusing applications to take children into care because some members of the judiciary hold social workers in such low esteem that they do not trust their evidence, it will be claimed this week in a major study.’

If social workers and the BASW want a realistic portrayal of a social worker on TV, they might be more than horrified.  Their shiny self- image might be seriously tarnished.  I’d even volunteer to write an episode or three!

To all those social workers who have been reduced to tears by about 5 minutes in total (so far) of a fictional portrayal of social work, my message to you is that I would like you all to be reduced to tears as often as I’ve been by the real-life actions of social services.    

Arrogant and lazy in the extreme were the social workers in my life.  Manipulating and re-writing their ‘paperwork’, and doing so on the instructions of their Team Leader who instructed them to make sure it was ‘watertight’.   He accidentally sent me a copy of his internal email – and also of the massive legal advice he’d had to seek to allow him to validate (not!)  his despicable actions.  Making decisions about a mature person, vulnerable because of her dementia – decisions made totally against the Mental Capacity Act 2005, hence the need for the paperwork to be re-written and waterproofed, on the instruction of their Boss.

Making decisions in a ward round that had long-lasting and devastating consequences for my relative – even though they had been warned by me about the possible consequences of the abuse of their powers of social services.

I used the words “if you do that, she will die”.  I was right.  They were wrong.

It took me years to get an explanation and a half-hearted apology from the Team Leader who was no ‘new kid on the block’’  He’d been around the block many times by the time his destructive power entered my life.

Apology?  I use that word loosely, but it went along the lines of the fact that the Mental Capacity Act is enormously difficult to understand, even for (so-called) professionals.  It included words like ‘new to this’, and ‘challenged’ but ignoring important matters like failing to do the decent thing, failing to consult properly with family, making decisions and fabricating paperwork to match his despicable directives.

It’s taken me more than 5 years to deal with the consequences of those decisions too – and my ‘dealing’ with it all is still serious, still ongoing and yes, I’ve shed more than a few tears over those 5 years.

The social workers in my life, and in the life of my relative, all colluded and contributed to the serious decline and unkind death of one gentle harmless kind individual.  Such was their arrogance; so great was their intransigence; so incompetent were they all.

That’s what I call shabby, irresponsible, despicable social work.

I won’t be shedding a single tear over the fictional portrayal of one fictional  social worker in Eastenders.

The BASW and its many social workers shouldn’t be shedding tears either.  They should all grow up and act responsibly and honestly, rather than hide behind their tears.

Bet you all that one single droplet of my tears is far more genuine than your accumulated and congealed tears.

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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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Panorama and Care in the UK

I wasn’t sure whether I could watch tonight’s Panorama programme – not wanting to see yet another TV programme about abuse and neglect in a care home, yet at the same time knowing that I had to watch because of my own experience of care in the UK.  If only because I too had a relative who was neglected in a care home.

Having watched the programme, I begin to understand why Care UK told me that the ‘records’ concerning the employment-status and suitability-status of 5 care workers from the Philippines working at Lennox House care home in London/Islington/Holloway had all been lost – because the laptop containing those records had been stolen.

Pull the other one!!!!  Care UK – pull the other one.  I’ve got another leg left because you’ve only stripped me of one leg so far.  You also stripped me of my life, Care UK.  You stole my life along with the other life that you stole, that of a very able 83 year old with dementia who was place into your care because you claimed to care.  But Care UK didn’t care enough to care.

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NMC hearings schedules – aka close to Care in the UK

I omitted to post this :  NMC Hearings Schedule – 6th to 17th February 2012 – at Euston House, London.

All in the best interests of Care in the UK.

More later, but click here for the charges.  Same as above link – but I wouldn’t want anyone to miss it.

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