Tag Archives: whistleblowers

Legal nooks of care, whistleblowing, cotton in ears & velvet soles on boots

“Behind the most ancient part of Holborn, London, where certain gabled houses some centuries of age still stand looking on the public way, as if disconsolately looking for the Old Bourne that has long run dry, is a little nook composed of two irregular quadrangles, called Staple Inn. It is one of those nooks, the turning into which out of the clashing street, imparts to the relieved pedestrian the sensation of having put cotton in his ears and velvet soles on his boots.” –  The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

That was “one of those nooks which are legal nooks”.

I was born and grew up not far away from that ‘legal nook’, long enough ago to have experienced the peace and quiet of the City of London on a Sunday morning (then!).  Little did I realise that I’d be reminded of Dickens’ description when I read the report on whistleblowers from Public Concern at WorkSpeaking up for Vulnerable Adults : What the Whistleblowers Say.

There are far too many disturbing quotes from the report – which is very user-friendly so you’ll have to read it yourself – but here’s a few that grabbed me, from the 100 cases looked at:

  • Year on year we receive the highest percentage of calls to our helpline from the care sector (15%).
  • In care, 55% of all calls were about abuse.
  • In 40% of all our care cases, concerns were initially ignored or denied by the organisation.
  • Additionally this is a sector with many workers who may be considered vulnerable due to low pay, low awareness of rights and lack of access to or knowledge of support.
  • Within the care sector itself, over half of the calls we receive are about abuse. The most common concerns being: physical abuse, lack of dignity, neglect, conduct of staff, verbal abuse and medication administered incorrectly or not at all.
  • the vast majority of workers in the care sector (80%) have already raised their concern when they call us and over a third of these concerns are initially ignored, mishandled or denied by organisations
  • care workers often do not realise that they are actually “blowing the whistle” until they encounter difficulties when having their concern addressed or are mistreated personally
  • whistleblowers struggle with the lack of feedback from organisations regarding how their concern is being handled
  • we also receive calls from workers across the adult social care spectrum including: social workers, safeguarding teams, volunteers, students, cleaners, doctors, nurses and other professionals.

And that’s all from the first couple of pages of the report!

The report looks at physical abuse, medication concerns, neglect, financial abuse and so on, and works its way through various case stories, all demonstrating the need for safeguarding vulnerable people in care and also the workforce providing that care.

It has allowed me to understand more of the reasons why I have needed to bang my head against a brick wall in recent years.  It also confirms to me what I sadly had to learn the hard way: that – in my own experience of dementia care – the local authority (all departments from the care commissioning team through to the Safeguarding/Adult Protection unit), the mental health care of older people multi-disciplinary team , the CSCI/CQC regulators and the care providers all colluded to care far more for themselves, to protect their own best interests above all others, than they ever cared for my relative’s best interests, and the best interests of other vulnerable older people in this particular part of the world.

They closed ranks in their own ‘legal nook’ to such an extent that I’m almost in need of care myself, because they have almost managed to transform me into a vulnerable adult, by their own sins of commission and sins of omission.  Almost, but not quite.

Not for the first time, I ask why everything can be hidden behind the word ‘confidentiality’.  We now have the vulnerable being cared for by a vulnerable workforce, according to this report, so it’s hardly surprising that nothing changes for the better.

It’s as if the whole care sector has become anaesthetised, numbed and indifferent to all that is going on under the umbrella of care.  I have been planning to write more about my own experience of dementia care, and this report has sharpened my resolve, so I will go back to the beginning and work my way through it all, chapter by chapter, stage by stage.

“…. the sensation of having put cotton in his ears  and velvet soles on his boots ….”

The cotton may still be in their ears – the velvet soles of my boots will have to be removed.

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Filed under abuse, care, care homes, growing older, Local Authority, professional responsibility

Reflections on Mimosa Healthcare Ltd and connected matters

The CQC recently introduced a new system of monitoring the quality of care provided in residential care homes, relying more on paper-based self-assessments by the care providers, and also relying heavily on whistleblowers to alert the CQC of the need for its involvement, all with the hope that the CQC will inspect and act promptly to deal with suspected neglect or slipping standards.

26 November 2010 – This is Bristol article: The owners of Sunnymead Manor, Southmead, Bristol a ‘care’ home where vulnerable residents were left to fend for themselves in dirty and unhealthy conditions have been warned they face prosecution unless they take immediate steps to improve the situation.

Mimosa Healthcare, whose slogan is Where People Matter, has been given seven days to draw up an action plan and has agreed not to take on any more patients until a string of problems are dealt with.

Sunnymead, which specialises in looking after people with dementia and “high care needs”, has been in trouble with the authorities in the past but appeared to have cleaned up its act last year.

Mimosa has since apologised to residents and their relatives and has promised to clean up its act.

So that’s more than once that Mimosa Healthcare Ltd has promised to clean up its act.  It hasn’t managed to do so for yet in spite of new management being in situ.

CQC’s Review of Compliance – published today.

May 2006 : CSCI inspected Sunnymead Manor ‘care’ home in May 2006 (the first inspection under the ownership of Mimosa Healthcare Ltd): Cost ~£456 – £508 per week plus additional charges.  All 5 requirements (under the previous owner) were seen to have been complied with.  However, 9 statutory requirements were made, plus 5 recommendations.

The company are clearly striving to improve standards; however the significant shortfalls in two main areas must be addressed as a matter of urgency to ensure that residents get the care they need and new staff are equipped with the skills they need to meet those needs.
A number of requirements have been issued in respect of: –
• Pre-admission assessment processes
• Assessment and Care Planning processes
• Identification and meeting changing care needs
• Meeting care needs in a respectful and dignified manner
• Effective communication between staff and residents
• Induction programme for all new staff
• Staff training records be kept for all staff
• Home Manager must make application to register
• Safe working practices must be followed in respect of moving and handling of residents and in infection control procedures.

They are serious failings in care, already highlighted in 2006.

June 2007 : CSCI inspected Sunnymead Manor in June 2007:  8 statutory requirements were made, plus 4 recommendations.  Cost £471- £600 per week plus additional charges.  “…. the home must always ensure that residents do not come to any harm, and get the help they need” – so the Regulator was aware then that staff were not ensuring that residents did not come to harm, and that residents were not getting the help they needed.

A stable staff team and improvements in the induction process for new staff and ongoing training, will benefit residents by ensuring they are looked after by staff who are better trained.”  That speaks for itself – the Regulator was aware of staff and training inadequacies resulting in sub-standard care to residents.

April 2008 : CSCI inspected Sunnymead Manor ‘care’ home in April 2008:  3 statutory requirements are made, no recommendations.  CSCI rating 2 star = “good”; Cost £498- £560 per week plus additional charges . “The care plan reviewing process is satisfactory in the nursing unit however needs to be more effective in the dementia care unit.”

November & December 2008 : CSCI inspected Sunnymead Manor ‘care’ home in November 2008 (2-star rating = good) and again in December 2008 (zero star rating = poor) after concerns were raised about the quality of care.

In November 2008 there were still 3 outstanding statutory requirements from the previous inspection; a further 4 immediate requirements following the November inspection; a further 4 statutory requirements following the November inspection; plus 1 recommendation.

In December 2008 (zero star rating = poor) there are now 5 outstanding statutory requirements; a further 18 statutory requirements from the December 2008 inspection; plus 4 recommendations.  “The Registered Person must ensure that the home is conducted so as to promote and make proper provision for the health and welfare of people who live at the home. “ When you read that  December 2008 inspection report in full, it is clear that December 2008 was the point at which CSCI should have heard enormously loud alarm bells ringing.

And yet, a mere 5 months later, all is apparently well and seen to be well by CSCI.

May 2009 : CSCI inspected Sunnymead Manor ‘care’ home on 6 May 2009; all 18 requirements and 4 recommendations were seen to have been met; following this inspection there is one statutory requirement made (concerning residents’ valuables) plus 2 recommendations (concerning the placement of non-flattering photographs of residents, and the use of the term ‘wandering’ in records giving a negative image of individuals).    CSCI rating:  two-star – “good”.  Cost: £498 – £560 per week plus additional charges.

The CQC dates are as confused and as confusing as some of CQC’s inspectors.

Step back to April 2009 and a Nurse from Sunnymead Manor – who was suspended from the care home in August 2006 – is before the NMC:  The work of Nonhlanhla Nkomo at a Bristol care home showed severe shortcomings, a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council in London heard.

The 52-year-old allegedly left an elderly man at the Sunnymead Manor care home with a “hugely swollen” face by not treating a tooth infection.

She also did not know another patient was a diabetic, it was claimed. The hearing continues.

Ms Nkomo, known as Ivy, was suspended from the care home in the Southmead area of Bristol in August 2006.

Ms Nkomo, who began working at the home as a registered nurse in April 2006, is also accused of failing to record whether she had administered medication to a further eight patients.

February 2009

Kingsmead Lodge, Shirehampton, Bristol –  Mimosa Healthcare

A care worker who allegedly witnessed abuse at a Bristol care home has been suspended.

The 18-year-old is one of five care workers who have given statements about incidents at Kingsmead Lodge in Shirehampton at which are being investigated by police, social services and watchdog organisation, the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

None of the care workers allegedly involved in abuse has been suspended.

But the teenager, who looked after dementia patients at the nursing home, has been suspended on full pay after speaking out.

The care worker said she had not been given adult protection or whistle-blowing training.

And the CQC is about to rely on whistleblowers????

December 2009 : Honeymead ‘care’ home and Bishopsmead Lodge ‘care’ home – Mimosa Healthcare Ltd

New evidence of failings by a major care home provider in Bristol has been uncovered by a BBC investigation. The findings come after concerns were raised about Mimosa’s other two Bristol homes, Kingsmead Lodge and Sunnymead Manor, earlier this year.

November 2010 and Mimosa Healthcare Ltd still has the effrontery to boast on its website with the following words: Where People Matter; We know all about caring – and so do the people who live with us; Mimosa is passionate about Dignity in Care; Experience a very special place where people matter.

I beg to differ, Mimosa Healthcare Ltd.  It does not appear to me that you care enough about the standard of care in some of your care homes.

Has the time has come for the Advertising Standards Authority to find a way to regulate the misleading content of marketing messages on companies’ own websites?  The ASA does not currently have any remit over marketing messages on companies’ own websites.  Trading Standards don’t care either, nor does the CQC.

In fact the CQC inspection reports could do with regulating too.  That is where most people looking for decent care for their relative, or even for themselves, turn to first of all – the CQC website.  But it is all fudge.  We are becoming an internet-governed world.  We are being encouraged to rely on internet connections for numerous sources of information.

If the CQC really cared it would have found a way by now to put maximum pressure on care providers to provide care rather than neglect.

If our governments really cared they too would have found a way.

Mimosa Healthcare is not alone – read up on Compassion in Care’s analysis of care.  Read a few of the inspection reports that Compassion in Care has put under the microscope.

My heart goes out to every single resident of every single Mimosa Healthcare ‘care’ home.  How many of you have been neglected when you should have been cared for?  

You all deserve better care.


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Filed under abuse, care, care homes, dementia care, neglect