When a family takes the decision to place a loved one into care, it is without doubt one of the most difficult decisions they make.
Many would, if they could, choose to look after an elderly relative themselves, therefore guaranteeing they are always treated with care, love and respect after losing their independence.
However, with the increasing demands on modern life, for many people this is often not an option. It can simply become too much, and it is then that they are faced with the difficult task of identifying a care home at which they feel comfortable and confident leaving their elderly relative.
Unfortunately, stories such as the one published on the front page of the Hull Daily Mail, relating to the care of 88-year-old John Swailes, make this task increasingly difficult and daunting.
The Rowans care home, which is run by HICA in Kirk Ella, was found to have been failing to provide the most basic standards of care when inspected by a safeguarding team.
Staff had continued giving Mr Swailes, who has dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), the prescribed drug known as Ebixa, for eight months after his GP had said for it to be stopped.
Inspectors also found that Mr Swailes, who had arthritis and a contracted hand, had not been given the painkillers he had been prescribed overnight, whilst there was no evidence to show staff had been cleaning his hand three times a day as directed, or helping him to clean his teeth.
Despite a stroke team advising staff to give him a bath every other day in March, a check of his daily records showed there was no evidence of him being given a bath, with his daughter Marina Ball believing he hadn’t been washed for months, as he was ‘stinking’.
Mrs Ball called the treatment of her father ‘disgusting’, and having now moved him to another home, St Mary’s care home in Chanterlands Avenue, Hull, says she has seen a rapid improvement in his health.
She has called for cameras to be installed in care homes, a move we at Hudgell Solicitors have long backed, despite opposition in some quarters.
As specialists in handling cases of care home neglect and sub-standard care, we recognise and appreciate that the majority of care home staff do a wonderful job, often in difficult circumstances. They can often face long shifts due to staff shortages, and can face residents who themselves may become physically and verbally abusive.
It is therefore vital that care home operators do all they can to provide their staff with the very best support.
Whilst many in the industry oppose the use of CCTV, we believe it will help to improve standards across the board. It will ensure the minority of care staff, who let organisations down by being abusive or neglectful, are caught and dealt with quickly.
Operators must also ensure policies and procedures around care are stringent at all times. There can simply be no excuse for basic standards of care, such as the correct administration of medication and the bathing of residents, not being met.
A spokeswoman for HICA said it had “zero tolerance” to poor care and had worked “swiftly” to address concerns, saying learnings from the report had been shared with staff, a new manager had been appointed and the home was being refurbished.
However, it should never need the intervention of inspectors to identify such issues.
With quality management, tight procedures and policies, and a dedication to providing the highest quality care, those looking to place a relative in the care of others would not face such a daunting, worrying task as they do today.