Tag Archives: Panorama

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.


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

Panorama – Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed

It must be impossible to have watched the Panorama programme last evening without feelings of disgust, revulsion, horror and utter disbelief.  The torture inflicted by so-called support workers on adults with learning disabilities was reminiscent of a horror movie.

It’s available here if you missed it, and if you feel strong enough to watch it.  It certainly comes with a warning

Joe Casey, the investigative journalist working undercover as a support worker at Winterbourne View, shot footage on his hidden camera that is almost impossible to describe.  His article in today’s Daily Mail puts into words the scenes transmitted.

Winterbourne View is described as a hospital, run by Castlebeck, a company I’ve never heard of before.   Joe Casey uses the words ‘state-of-the-art’ hospital – I’ve developed an allergy to such descriptions now, because it was a ‘state-of-the-art flagship’ care home that was responsible for the neglect and death of my own relative.

According to Castlebeck’s website, Winterbourne View ‘is a purpose designed acute service, offering assessment and intervention and support for people with learning disabilities, complex needs and challenging behaviour’.

It is the staff at Winterbourne View who are in need of immediate assessment and intervention because of their own acutely challenging behaviour.  Now that some of them have been arrested and placed under police investigation they will hopefully receive a full assessment of their own needs for care, long-term care, with fully trained supervision, support and care.  Their mental health needs should have been addressed beforehand, by Castlebeck who employed them as ‘fit for purpose’.  I hope that not one of them will ever be allowed to work in the world of care again, once they have been dealt with in an appropriate fashion by our system of justice.  They are thugs – not support workers.  They don’t know the meaning of the words ‘support’ or ‘care’.

The management – if there is any – cannot plead innocence and ignorance of the situation.  Local and senior management must have known what was going on, but they ignored the whistle blown by a former senior nurse, Terry Bryan.  He tried to get them all to act – but they all failed to listen to his whistle.

As did the Care Quality Commission.  The horse has always bolted before the CQC gets anywhere near the door.  The CQC does not respond to complaints brought to it by us, mere human beings.  The CQC merely hands those concerns down to the very service that is at the centre of the concerns.   The CQC needs to establish a unit that deals in depth with each and every concern brought to it – and not just as another paper-exercise, which appears to be the only thing that the CQC currently has the ability to handle.  It only takes the CQC to ignore one single concern, like this one highlighted to the CQC long ago by a Senior Nurse, and you can end up with a torture setting being allowed to flourish.  That’s nothing to do with care – it’s all to do with neglect.  I accuse the CQC of neglect in the case of Winterbourne View.  To mention just one establishment that the CQC has neglected.

What is the point of a regulator if a regulator is incapable of regulating?

This was institutional abuse.  Abuse that was seen to be happening and so should have been prevented.

There are other kinds of institutional abuse that can never be seen until it’s too late, but they too can result in the destruction of life.  But the very systems within any care setting – that that the CQC and local authorities are meant to ensure are in place – can be absent and impossible for the person in need of care and/or their relatives to identify as being absent.  That’s what a regulator is supposed to be doing.  Ensuring that every single system is in place to protect those people who are at risk.

The Castlebeck website claims to be proud of its staff trainingCastlebeck has a very strong training and development programme. Staff are encouraged to improve their performance and the performance of others.

The company has appeared in the top half of the Nursing Times Top 100 Employers survey for the last three yeas.

Shame on them all, and heaven help those in the bottom half of the NT’s list.

Unless and until there is widespread recognition that the care system needs a thorough overhaul, nothing will change.  I’m sick and tired of hearing apologies, and “this will never happen again”.  It does.  It continues to happen.  Day by day by day – somewhere in the UK.  Oh yes, I have no doubt that there are good hospitals, good care homes, good care workers out there, but there are also too many shabby, sub-standard operations that are allowed to abuse people.

Alongside a radical shift in attitudes, the language of care also needs to change – I hold the CQC and its predecessor the CSCI responsible for the fact that the language of care is enabling abuse.

CQC statement:  “We apologise to those who have been let down by our failure to act more swiftly to address the distressing treatment that people at this hospital were subjected to.”

CQC has “spoken to the former member of the hospital staff, apologised for not contacting him earlier and offered to discuss his concerns.”

CQC says “We have asked Panorama to provide us with detailed information about the hospital to help us in our continuing regulatory work. We have also suggested that in future we would welcome earlier involvement by the programme in cases such as this so that we can step in to protect people as early as possible.”

Why would the CQC listen to Panorama any more than the CQC listens to people who bring concerns to the CQC?  Panorama is not the regulator.  The CQC doesn’t care enough to listen to those who are in the frontline and that includes staff blowing whistles, residents or patients complaining,  and relatives of those in care who are concerned.  But Panorama has the power to name and shame those who pretend to care.

‘National Minimum Standards’ – ‘Essential Standards’ – ‘Regulatory body’ – all meaningless words.

How about a new standard: Guaranteed Quality Standard without which no care home will be allowed to operate, without which no manager will be allowed to manage, without which no nurse or support worker will be allowed to work.

Where are the Required Standards?  Required standards of training for all support workers before being let loose to work in care?  Required standards of supervision of all staff?  Required standards of regulation?  Required standards of career progression for all care workers?  Required standards of respect for all care workers who provide good standards of care?

One of our esteemed (not always) MPs – was it Iain Duncan Smith? – suggested that  unemployed people in receipt of benefits should be forced to work in the community in places like care homes.  Well, my message back would be that you show no respect for the world of care, no respect for staff who might be good support workers if given support themselves, and no respect for the people in need of care.  Because you could end up with utter chaos – but, I am presuming that all the staff working at Winterbourne View were carefully selected, CRB checked, trained and supervised, especially the most senior thug of them all.

And all this on the day that Southern Cross is in desperate trouble, with the begging bowl out now, all because Southern Cross failed to get its priorities right.  It failed to remember that it’s there to provide care.  If Lansley and Burstow and our Demolition Government don’t care enough to care, they should be ashamed of themslves.

How about begging for guaranteeed standards of decent care for those in need of care?  But we shouldn’t need to beg for that, should we.   It should be a basic provision made available by a civilised country.  If we really care.


Filed under abuse

What does it take for a care provider to provide care in the UK?

Shares in Southern Cross, the UK’s largest operator in the care homes business, fell to their lowest level in a year and a half last Tuesday.  Chief Executive Jamie Buchan said Southern Cross had been hit by a reduction in placements by local authorities.  The Financial Times commented, on 11 May 2010:

Southern Cross investors have needed nerves of steel to stomach the roller coaster ride they have endured over the past two years. The group’s New Horizons restructuring is improving quality in its homes, which will help it to increase the fees it charges, as hard-pressed local authorities become increasingly picky about who they fund. In the meantime, the group’s cost structure remains onerous.

Southern Cross certainly has had a rough couple of years but nobody forced it to follow the route of rapid expansion.  Personal choice, personal responsibility and greed plunged it into financial crisis in 2008.   Bill Colvin, the chief executive left holding the fort, after the resignation of a couple of his colleagues, said then: “We have been caught by the credit market situation and the commercial property market situation.

By 2009 it was clear that all was not well with the care provided by Southern Cross to many of the vulnerable elderly people living in its care homes, with 29% of its homes rated ‘adequate or poor’ by CSCI (now CQC).  Southern Cross was prosecuted five times in seven years after a series of deaths and safety failings.  That was no way to run a business, no way to show that you cared.

Southern Cross is not alone in failing to show it cares.  Have a look at this promo video for Care UK designed to attract investment – decide for yourself whether Care UK really respects vulnerable elderly people, let alone cares about them.  Update: 8 July 2010 0900 hrs: the promo video has just been deleted, ‘removed by the user’.  Thank goodness.  It was disgusting.

Care UK hit the spotlight again when Panorama revealed the shocking state of domiciliary homecare in a TV programme in April 2009, exposing the misery and neglect provided by some of our so-called ‘care providers’.   Care UK has lost contracts left, right and centre in recent years – but nothing changes; they are unstoppable, almost – as Outside Left pointed out in November 2009.

Unstoppable also in their ever-increasing talent of neglecting residents, as the family of Eric Wilder must feel:

Eric Wilder died on Saturday morning at the age of 80 from pneumonia after being rushed to West Middlesex Hospital last Thursday, where it was found he was suffering from blood loss, failing kidneys and anaemia. But his daughters Maureen Wilder and Pamela Forey claim if staff at Charlotte House nursing home in Snowy Fielder Waye had acted quicker their father would still be here today.  ……

A spokesman for Care UK, who run the home, said: “We’d like to express our sympathy to the family of Mr Wilder. “We will investigate any complaint thoroughly in line with our complaints policy and feedback to Mr Wilder’s family and the local social services department.”

Care UK even managed to neglect residents after their death – surely the lowest of the low.

A few very recent examples of a few matters that we must bring to the close attention of our newly elected servants:

13 January 2010: 106-year old woman evicted from her care home – the words are here; the pictures here

3 months later: Underhill House care home is still open and being used as a day centre now – provider Wolverhampton City Council

21 April 2010: Emergency steps to close ‘The Briars’ Southampton care home were unusual

23 April 2010: :  Stench of urine in  resident’s room at ‘The Briars’  Southampton care home overwhelmed inspectors on an unannounced visit, a court heard

28 April 2010:  Land girl pensioner’s care ‘worse than a dog’ – NHS Luton & Dunstable hospital

3 May 2010: Gateshead Council’s care faces criticism

6 May 2010: 85-year old Dementia patient was force-fed by a nurse – provider: Four Seasons Health Care

7 May 2010: BOSSES at a Norfolk care home have admitted they have changed their staffing roster following an investigation into standards by County Hall – provider: Southern Cross

11 May 2010: A Bristol care home worker is on trial for the ill-treatment of a 93-year-old resident – provider: Mimosa Healthcare Ltd

14 May 2010: The family’s anger at the Bristol care home worker convicted of the ill-treatment

12 May 2010: Ross-on-Wye care home boss in neglect arrest is bailed – provider: Autumn Days Care Ltd.

The horse has always bolted before care providers provide care.  Their major talent seems to lie in their ability to find an excuse, a scapegoat, always.  They blame the current political climate, the reduction in government and local authority spending and, perversely, even the increasing number of elderly people requiring care.  The CQC claims to regulate and inspect; there are National Minimum Standards for care homes; we have Safeguarding/Adult Protection procedures; local authorities are also responsible for so very many aspects of the neglect they commission in the name of care.

The list is endless.  The whole system is rotten to the core, with complaints procedures – sorry, I should say ‘formal complaint procedures’ – drawn out to exhaust the most patient of people.  We have the CQC, and the NMC; the GMC and the LGO; the OPHSO and …. numerous other combinations of a selection of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

Unison – a million voices for change – highlights the failings of private homecare providers – and before long, Islington Council will have no contracts left for the provision of care.  What then?  Care UK has a 25-year contract to run three care homes in Islington, but is now planning to concentrate on the self-funders.  I wonder why that could be???

But, it doesn’t have to be like that.  It does not have to be like that.

Philip Norman tells his story of care, kindness and compassion.   His words should serve as a reminder to everyone that with effort and genuine dedication to duty on the part of those responsible for the delivery of safe care, we will be able to count on those same qualities, when we reach the point of needing to place our own relatives into the caring hands of others.  Home care, hospital care, or residential care.

Chilling words Philip Norman used as well: “we struck lucky”.  It should not be a matter of luck.  It should be a matter of course.


Filed under care, care homes, dementia care, domiciliary homecare, growing older, neglect

Secret filming nurse struck off by NMC

A nurse can be struck off by the NMC for following “the behest of the filmmakers … rather than her obligations as a nurse”, and yet there are so many occasions when a nurse “follows the behest of a Care Home Provider” resulting in serious neglect of residents – and on occasion, death – in a  Care Home with nursing, but no action is taken against the nurse in question?  Or against all the other ‘bodies’ like SS, Local Authority, and even the Care Home Provider.


Margaret Haywood deserves an Honour, not the sack.

She did her job to perfection, by protecting and supporting the health of individual patients.  Shame on you, Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Update: I was delighted to learn that Margaret Haywood was reinstated.


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Filed under care, nursing