In the UK we are becoming an aging population. According to the Office of National Statistics, the life expectation of both men and women is increasing and the average life expectancy in England and Wales as at 2010 is to age 85 years for men and 89 for women. Further the average life span has increased by approximately 10 years for men and 8 years for women.
This in turn comes with its own problems in that as we get older we require more care which is often provided by family and or friends. However, often care cannot be provided by relatives and a care home or nursing home is the only option for some elderly people. However, it has recently been reported that care given by care workers in care homes is often substandard and seriously inadequate.
The BBC recently commissioned a Panorama documentary which was aired on television last week and revealed serious concerns regarding the standards in some of this country’s care homes. Apparently, there are approximately 17,500 care homes for the elderly in the UK.
Much of the filming of the documentary took place in Old Deanery, a care home in Essex. According to Panorama, residents were physically assaulted and ignored despite calling for assistance and often left in their own excrement for hours. The care home is a 93 bed home and allegations about staff were first raised in 2012 by whistleblowers. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Essex County Council investigated the concerns and its investigation revealed that the staffing levels in the home were “woefully inadequate” and this meant that residents were waiting far too long for their call bells to be answered.
Yvonne Grant aged 92 a resident at another care home, Oban House Retirement Home in Croydon was filmed calling for a nurse 321 times without anyone attending to her and she asked for the toilet 45 times in just over an hour before any member of staff checked on her. Further, the footage shows that when a care worker arrives to see to her she is told to use her incontinence pad to go to the toilet and when she is eventually taken to the toilet the care workers then attempt to make her walk before roughly dropping her back on to her bed without even taking her to the toilet. She was taken to the toilet two and a half hours after she first asked for assistance.
Oban House is owned by HC1 who are one of this country’s biggest care providers and have been since 2011. Their website describes the Retirement Home as :
“Oban House is a family owned and managed care home. Supported by a friendly, kind and professional staff group within a homely atmosphere. Here your individual personal care needs are met with respect and dignity. At Oban House we aim to offer a service specifically to suit the care you require. Ranging from Day care service, Holiday care and Permanent care.
Choose your day/s times of arrival and departure, enjoy a bath, have your hair done, see a chiropodist, enjoy the good food and companionship”.
Oban House is now considering installing closed circuit television cameras to assist with the safety of residents. The two care workers involved in the incident in respect of Yvonne Grant have been convicted of common assault.
Meanwhile, undercover filming at the Old Deanery in Essex revealed a woman with dementia being slapped by a care worker. The resident who was partially paralysed was also mocked, taunted and bullied by other members of staff. In another incident a resident who cried for help and was terminally ill was ignored when she wanted to use the toilet facilities. In fact, her call bell was left unplugged so that it was not working when she tried to use it.
It is disgraceful to think that as we get older and rely on care from others that the care that is provided is sometimes abusive and substandard. Systems must be in place to prevent the elderly who are often frail, vulnerable and unable to communicate from being abused in such a manner. The older generation are often of the view that it is not acceptable for them to complain and that they should be grateful that someone is looking after them. However, this does not mean that they should be placed in such situations where they are being cared for in such a substandard way.