Tag Archives: care home abuse

Patience a virtue?

Patience may well be a virtue but it may also tarnish your spirit.

This blog of mine has been silent for many months now, because I was patiently waiting and hoping that Care UK might just find it possible to be as virtuous as my patience has been since 2007.  Sadly, I now know that is not to be.  I waited and hoped in vain.  Foolishly, I gave the benefit of the doubt to Care UK.  Back in 2007 when I allowed my relative to be placed into one of its care homes, I placed my trust in Care UK.

From when my relative died, then through all the investigations and reports written by the Local Authority – with input from all and sundry –  and right through to the end of the hearings at the NMC in 2013, I continued to trust.  After the conclusion of those NMC hearings, with two nurses being struck off the NMC register, and two more having serious conditions imposed on their ability to continue working in this country as nurses, I asked Care UK to do the decent thing.  We entered into what began as meaningful and purposeful correspondence.

Since then, I have been passed around like the proverbial parcel.  Kicked about like a football.  I lost count of the number of times the goalposts were repositioned again and again. I’ve been bounced from Care UK to solicitors to financial bigheads to insurance policies, then back to bigheads and even bigger heads.

Care UK has shown itself to me to be a business stripped of humanity.

Fortunately, over the last year or so, I’ve been able to put my thoughts and feelings into another blog – far removed from this one, and not on Care UK’s radar, as this one has been.  But over the last few weeks and months, I’ve received so many kind comments about this particular blog, that I have decided to return to it and to resurrect it.

I’ll be back soon.

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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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Filed under abuse, accountability, care, care homes, Care UK, dementia, dementia care

Fine words butter no parsnips in residential care

Andrew Lansley has come up with the revolutionary concept that there will be a code of conduct and minimum training standards for all care workers operating in the field of adult social care.  Or is it perhaps a slow evolution of care?

He said, allegedly: “Good local supervision offers support every day. Distant national regulation can often only react after the event.  Employers must always take responsibility and be accountable for the staff they employ. But, we recognise that more can be done to support employers in this and a code of conduct and clear minimum training standards will provide important clarity in this area.  These measures will help employers to better consider the skills profile of potential employees and ensure that patients and service users get the care and support they need.”

Somewhat late in the day, for some of us, so forgive me for shouting ABOUT TIME TOO!!

But, it’s the response from Care UK and its  Managing Director of Residential Care, Toby Siddall, that has caused me great discomfort :

 “Directors at Care UK see codes of conduct as only part of the solution.   Matters of technical competence and behaviour are already an important part of the employment contract for Care UK employees. Whether or not a member of a care home team treats people with dignity is about the leadership, training and recruitment of people with the right personal values – not about a line in a contract.”

Well, well, well!!!  Perhaps, Mr Siddall, you would care to explain just how long it is that ‘matters of technical competence and behaviour’ have been an important part of the employment contract for Care UK employees.  Since when?  Tell me the date! 

They certainly weren’t in place in Care UK and at Lennox House care home at the end of 2007 and in 2008, when Lennox House was ‘investigated’ twice within 8 months   and not allowed to accept new residents for a year while a whole host of measures enabled Care UK to  drag itself from the gutter to an acceptable standard of care provision. 

As for treating people with dignity – that was absent too when those residents were left dead in their beds for days, as the Islington Tribune reported. 

Of course, the Reports of three (or more?) investigations are all held behind closed doors – far away from daylight, so as to protect the best interests of Care UK.  The best interests of the Leadership of Care UK including Mike Parish, Chief Executive, and the then MD of Residential Care Tony Hosking, and the Managers and Deputy Managers of the whole not-fit-for-purpose care providers, of those in Islington who commissioned and allowed Lennox House to function when it was not fit for purpose, the then CSCI (now CQC) to name but a few.  Their best interests are forever preserved by the hiding of those reports.   

 If leadership can be held responsible, as Care UK now seems to understand, how come heads never roll when people die as a result of sloppy leadership and sub-standard care? 

Unless and until it is a requirement for all those Reports, and others too of similar investigations, to be published and available in the public domain so that everyone can see what went on behind closed doors – nothing will ever change.

Or could it be that too many Directorships spoil the concentration?  9  for Toby Siddall alone.  And for Michael Robert Parish …….

 

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A care home or a disaster waiting to happen?

This is not something I’d planned to write just yet, but the shocking abuse of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View shown in the recent BBC Panorama programme, and the reasons behind the demise of private care provider Southern Cross have troubled me enormously,  so I’ve revised my plan.  I will do all I can personally to raise awareness of the crisis in care that is slowly being revealed.  With help from everyone involved and interested enough to care, we will bring about a change for the better.

I had intended to work my way slowly through the failings of the so-called care system that have affected my own family and my own life before reaching this chapter, but the world has changed, so I will start at the end.

The horrors of the torture of adults with learning difficulties at Winterbourne View long-stay/residential hospital have caused many people to ask questions.  The regulator CQC has so far not come up with answers but has promised an internal investigation.  Paul Burstow, care minister, promises action to safeguard vulnerable people in care.  Andrew Lansley, health secretary, managed to use the scandal to plug his questionable Health and Social Care reforms in his statement on Winterbourne View, and he talks of a ‘serious care review’ (sic).

John Healey, shadow health secretary, can manage only this empty comment on Southern Cross: “Thousands of very vulnerable people and their families will be worried sick by what’s being reported about Southern Cross.”  Ed Miliband is turning into the invisible man, so I can’t find anything of interest that he’s said over the last week – but he did get married recently so the honeymoon may be reason for the sound of silence.

It’s almost as if this bunch of ‘representatives of the people’ have only just arrived on the scene from another planet – but, no, they’ve all been on one side or other of the political washing line for years now.  Wearing blinkers, and all turning a blind eye to what so many real people have had to put up with.  Yes, I’ve written long and clearly worded letters to all of them over recent years, but – just like the CQC did to Terry Bryan, the senior nurse with the big whistle that nobody bothered to listen to when he blew it loudly in their ears – they all stick their heads in the sand, delegate matters downwards to someone who has a high qualification in the ‘copy & paste department’, who then creates a meaningless letter of reply quoting platitudes.  Pointless exercise – and a waste of an opportunity to ‘represent the people’ which is what they’re all paid to do.

I listened to BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions at the weekend.  Some of the panel don’t even know the difference between NHS care and social care, but they are the ones with the power to influence the audience, to make decisions about our lives.  Power is dangerous; power corrupts …. but that’s something I’ll leave for another day, and I will try to return to the abuse of power.

For far too long, the sound of silence has done its best to try to deafen and silence those of us who have not turned a blind eye.

Those responsible for the neglect and abuse of vulnerable adults in need of decent care have managed to create a system that arrogantly dismisses each and every major concern that is brought their way.  People ask how a care home could possibly exist that doesn’t provide decent care.  People ask who is responsible.  People wonder who is to blame when things go so badly wrong.   I’m not alone in knowing how these things come about – read on!!

They’re all in it together.  The care providers, the local authority care commissioning departments, the so-called regulator CQC, the formal complaints procedures that take away the will to live from those who dare to complain, the social services departments, the safeguarding of vulnerable adults units, the MPs who can’t be bothered to care, the Ombudspersons, the police who can’t find a way to help, the GMC, the NMC, the PCTs, the ICO – to name but a few.

After the scandal of Winterbourne View, someone asked “Is this the tip of an iceberg?”.  It is one hell of an iceberg.

Is what follows the description of a care home fit for purpose?  Or was it a disaster waiting to happen?

Please share any answers you may have, because I’ve almost lost the will to live too, but only almost.

A residential care home for 90 frail and vulnerable older people, many with dementia, described as a flagship, state-of-the-art care home, showing ‘the way forward for the future care of older people’, but where:

  • there were no systems in place for appropriate staff selection, staff induction, training, and on-going supervision
  • communication with GPs and other health services was seriously, dangerously and sadly lacking
  • new staff received no induction programme
  • pre-admission assessments, risk assessments did not reflect residents’ needs, follow-up assessments were not undertaken
  • care plans were not written up in a meaningful way, let alone looked at by the staff
  • the staff did not understand their roles
  • there were no systems in place to monitor hydration and nutrition
  • the nursing records did not reflect patients’ needs
  • the care plans did not identify needs
  • the record-keeping was seriously challenged and challenging
  • no charts available for the monitoring of decline in a resident
  • there was no system in place for clinical supervision and performance appraisal
  • nursing staff without chronic disease management training
  • no records kept of any training that was provided, if any was provided
  • no knowledge of or training for diabetes management in place
  • no system in place for routine monitoring of diabetes, swallowing or breathing difficulties,
  • unsigned and undated and often illegible records kept, with entries that were meaningless
  • a total lack of understanding of the need for and reasons for accurate medical/clinical records to be kept
  • MAR (medication administration records) with entries unsigned or countersigned, and changes made without signature or date
  • no records available to give details of the suitability of the staff to be employed in their positions
  • no records available to give details of the employment status of the staff.

I can’t list any more now – but I trust you get the gist of this particular disaster waiting to happen.

Was that a care home fit for purpose?  Or was it a disaster waiting to happen?

But nobody noticed.  Until it was too late.

And yet, the care provider provided the care home with nursing and many others; the local authority commissioning department commissioned it and allowed it to open – so delighted was the local authority that it gave several 25-year contracts to the care provider to provide such services; the CQC/CSCI inspected and found all to be in order – before the ship sank, that is; the social services department found it suitable for vulnerable elderly people to be placed there – but placing them at even greater risk.

Unsurprisingly, the ship hit the rocks.

Then, and only then, did they all go behind closed doors, into a huddle, impose a massive action plan, close it for a full year to new residents – that’s the best that could have been done, although there were calls in the area for it to be closed in its entirety.  But, hey, the local authority had entered into a 25 year contract.  The care provider was in splendid ignorance – at first, but is no longer so innocent.  The care provider is not a novice to this business.  That is one of the most distressing and most depressing aspects of it all.  How many other care homes are there, being run in a similarly shoddy fashion, with careless care being provided to some who because of age, disability or illness are at their most vulnerable and who deserve good care.

My patience has been tried and tested, almost to the point of exhaustion, as I worked my way through each and every stage of the complaints procedure, before being allowed to progress to the next stage, and I haven’t yet reached the end of it all.  It is obscene, offensive, corrupt, squalid and unworthy of the word ‘care’ for this system to be allowed to exist, with absolutely no accountability, nobody prepared or willing to accept personal responsibility, and all behind closed doors, so that the wider world remains unaware of what is being perpetrated and perpetuated.

Over the weekend, I decided to look back over quite a few years.  From just a couple of years:

published 13 June 1998 : ‘In the short term, decentralisation shifts responsibility for funding care to individuals. In the long term, the combination of decentralisation and privatisation may make the costs of care higher than they need be to government and society. In the USA, the loss of control over the finance and delivery of long-term care seems to have increased the cost to government and decreased quality and access for individuals. The effects of these policies have not been adequately studied and understood in either country.’  (Allyson Pollock and Charlene Harrington.  I do wish we would learn to listen to Prof Allyson Pollock!)

published 4 April 1999 : ‘Local authorities have to get as many placements as possible with insufficient money,” he says. “If care is going to be determined by people undercutting each other, we’re going to be in an appalling situation.

published 8 September 1999 : ‘Care homes may be forced to close due to government quality measures.  Care home owners are demanding urgent talks with the government because of fears measures designed to improve quality will lead to home closures.

published 11 November 1999 :  ‘Training has been the Achilles heel of social care with about 80 per cent of the workforce unqualified and an absence of clear employer responsibilities and targets. But a five-year training strategy by national training organisation TOPSS England aims to change this.’

‘It sets training standards and new qualifications for local authorities and the private sector covering a social care workforce of approximately one million. It draws together NVQs and post qualification training, spanning care workers in nursing homes and social services directors. As well as setting targets for training and qualifications, the five-year action plan aims to predict what future skills will be most in demand and how the government, employers, and employees should pay for the training.’

‘And the picture of training to emerge in other areas is little better. Only 19 per cent of staff in homes for people with learning difficulties were qualified and only 23 per cent of staff in homes for older people.’

‘Andrea Rowe, manager of TOPSS England, says the new regulatory regime will be judging care homes on the quality of their training as well as service standards being developed by the government. “They will lean on homes and close them down if they don’t meet the new service standards,” she says.’

‘Private residential and nursing homes claim they face a financial crisis, pointing to a mounting number of receiverships.’

It appears that we have made no progress.  We being the real Big Society ‘we’ – each and every person involved in the decision-making process.   The ones to suffer are the ones in care.  They suffer neglect and abuse because of society’s inability to show that it cares. .

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Care UK care home fails in duty of care

How very sad to read of yet another failure by yet another so-called care provider.  This time, it’s Care UK – yet again.

The Surrey Comet reports here :

The family of an elderly woman left with sores and badly dehydrated after neglect at a care home has been paid compensation.

Josephine Cunningham, from Worcester Park, was left with the injuries during a stay at Appleby House, an Epsom care home operated by Care UK, a leading independent provider of health and social care services.

Mrs Cunningham’s daughter, Janice, said: “I think this incident highlights the casual way the elderly are treated in some residential care homes.

“It is terrible my mother had to endure the pain of the pressure sores.”

I have to agree with you there, Janice.  How many daughters and sons, nieces and nephews, and other relatives have had to use similar words about the suffering of their own family members in so-called care?

Care UK’s spokeswoman said: ‘Care UK always endeavours to deliver the highest-possible standards of care for all our residents, but we have accepted that on this occasion we could have done more to ensure Mrs. Cunningham’s comfort.

“We have learned from the experience and made changes to our procedures.”‘

Comfort?  Learned from the experience?  Changes to procedures?  Those words are words you might expect to hear from a beginner in the world of care, but not from an organisation like Care UK, a leading independent provider of health and social care services.    Leading in what?  Leading, perhaps, in the world of after-thoughts, after-planning, after the horse has bolted.

Care UK should always do more than ‘endeavour’ to deliver high standards of care.  Care UK should ensure that high standards of care are always delivered.  No excuses, please!

Care UK should not need to learn from the pain and suffering of its residents. Care UK should ensure that its staff have learned sufficient lessons before it begins to care, before it opens care homes, before it accepts residents.  No excuses, please!

Care UK’s residents should not need to suffer pain in order for Care UK to monitor its procedures.  Care UK’s procedures should all be watertight before any Care UK care home is opened.  No excuses, please!

But then again, this is not an isolated incident.

.

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Carer ate food meant for patient with Alzheimer’s

Every now and then you read a report of abuse/neglect/lack of care that reminds you of the number of times someone has said or written to you, when dealing with your own particular care issues, “lessons have been learned” and “it will never happen again“.

This BBC report here is one of those needles – the kind of needle that goes right through you and makes you even more determined to open as many eyes as possible to the rubbish that goes under the name of ‘care’ in this rich UK of ours.  And if you’re listening/reading, David Cameron or Nick Clegg, Paul Burstow or Andrew Lansley, this should indicate to you that we are NOT all in this together.  You are never likely to experience the kind of treatment that some people in residential care have no choice but to accept.

If you can watch the video contained in the Report and not feel sick to the pit of your stomach, then you have no feelings.

Northern Ireland’s South-Eastern Health Trust has apologised after a care assistant admitted abusing a 70-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Apologies are no longer good enough.

Lessons are never learned.

It happens again and again and again.

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Care home abuse investigation in Glasgow

Yet another story emerges about neglect and abuse in a care home.  The Scottish Daily Record reports CARERS at an old folks’ home tied an 84-year-old woman to her bed “like an animal”, it was claimed last night.

Police are investigating the horrific allegations – and five staff at the home have been suspended over claims that pensioners were manhandled and mistreated.

The family of the frail 84-year-old, a former home help who suffers from dementia, told how they noticed bruises on her chest six weeks ago.

They said they reported the old lady’s injuries but didn’t get a proper explanation of what had happened to her.

A spokeswoman for the Strathclyde force said: “We can confirm we have received allegations and an inquiry is at a very early stage.  From our initial enquiries, it appears this may be a situation which can be dealt with by the Care Commission.But this may be subject to change, based on how the inquiry continues.”

If the account given by the family to the Daily Record is verified, I would like to think that the Police will continue to be involved.  Otherwise if left to the Care Commission (CQC equivalent), there may be yet another cover-up.  And I believe firmly that all such investigations should be open, transparent and made available to the public.  Otherwise there can be no confidence in care.

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