Tag Archives: Terry Bryan

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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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.

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