I’ve just finished watching the Panorama programme about Elder Care, where a woman tells her story of how her mother with Alzheimers was abused by the very people who should have cared for her.
Suspicious about bruises that had appeared on her mother’s body, she recorded video footage from a hidden camera which showed her mum being more or less thrown into her bed at 5.30 pm by two carers from the Philipines. They talk in their native language and manhandle her poor arthritic body disgracefully.
Several carers come and go and don’t really speak to her. The TV is switched on and off for the carers benefit and in the morning, she is bathed by the same carers who saw her last 13 hours earlier, slapping her hands away when she protested in pain.
One carer complained about the low wage at about £6.50, so what we have is a culture of angry people taking care of difficult patients that the carers really can’t be bothered with.
The breakfast carer ignores Maria, and she is speed force-fed by a carer who doesn’t speak to her. The carer puts on the TV to watch it for herself, and switches it off again when she leaves. Maria is left to stare at the ceiling for most of every day. They treat Maria as no human should be treated.
Maria’s daughter said that she had lived in that environment for a year.
Although against company policy to have a male carer alone with a Client, a single male carer treats her roughly, twists her arm, hits her and swears at her. There is no compassion, no care, and no help from the people she needed to help her.
He lifted her by her head and when she cried out, he slapped her in the face. He hit her 6 times in while he gave her a wash in the morning. Recruited from overseas to work as a nurse, he was trusted, and failed the woman he was paid to care for. Maria, unable to shout for help, in permanent pain from her arthritis, and a victim of sustained and deliberate abuse, was a helpless victim and an easy target.
By the end of that programme, I found myself crying for the predicament Maria (and the hidden sufferers) find themselves in.
I’ve touched on abuse in homes before, when I blogged about the Castlebeck Affair, and I recognised that it is likely this type of thing goes on in care homes up and down the country, but Castlebeck had warning signs that people ignored.
This is from a home that had a good reputation.
Why did the home allow this to happen?
Ash Court responded that the abuse Maria suffered was an isolated incident. Well, I’m not going to apologise for saying that an answer like that really doesn’t give me any confidence that our kids, elders and disabled are really being protected from abuse when the Companies are employing cheap labour who can hardly speak the language, let alone have proper training to care.
The CQC report doesn’t seem particularly helpful either, and this is where I struggle. Those of us whose relatives need residential care need to know our people are being cared for. It’s inexcusable to say that if they had found abuse they would have taken action. The majority of hopefully isolated bullies carry out their abuse when nobody else is looking. Where this gets worrying, is that it was 5 different carers in 2 days carrying out the abuse.
I do strongly believe that all carers involved in looking after any of our people should be paid a fair wage to attract good quality carers. They should also be able to speak the language of the people they care for, to a good enough level to be able to communicate with the people they are looking after. The last stipulation should be that they have a minimum specified amount of training on how to treat vulnerable people.
When I was much younger, I once walked past a care home and an elderly man was banging on the window and shouting help from a second floor room. Instead of acting, I walked past as I saw a carer enter his room, thinking that he would be properly cared for by the staff. I want to kick myself for that now, as the care home had a bad report a short while later. I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
I am glad that my grandparents were both cared for at home. My mother drives me batty at times, but I would struggle to let her stay anywhere that I think she might not be looked after. I also know that for every bad care home, there are probably dozens of fabulous ones, but we don’t know what is going to happen when we put them under someone else’s care, do we?
As a teen, I did some work in an old people’s home for my Duke of Edinburgh Award. Yes, I hated most of it. I was very young, and in a place that stank of wee and poo, and with old men and women ordering me around. I wasn’t disrespectful, even when an old woman called me her servant, although I tried with all my might to avoid helping out in her room.
I did enjoy the common rooms and talking to the residents when they had lucid moments, and reliving some of their lives with them. I regularly helped an almost bed ridden cancer patient get his illicit baccy supply, and I’d get him up into his chair and wheel him out for some fresh air while he puffed his lungs black. It was a sad day when I turned up for my shift and he was gone.
For many vulnerable inmates and residents, there is nobody to care. For goodness sake, even our prisoners get treated better than lots of our vulnerable citizens.
Controversial, yes, truthful, yes. I am not ashamed of that. There must be valid reasons for the human rights of our care home residents to be treated with respect, and have their time filled and occupied by people who actually know what a heart is.
The concerns in my Castlebeck Panorama blog post haven’t changed, and every story like this just puts the notch of anxiety just that little bit higher on the top list of things to worry about for special needs children through their lives.
People are so cruel, but others are so kind. I don’t believe in the retribution from God things, or all things happen for a reason.
The only things I believe people have to fear from in this world are :
1 – Other People
2 – Other People
3 – Other People
4 – Natural Disasters & Unforeseen Circumstances
I don’t actually blame all the carers who find themselves in this vicious cycle as they’ve generally been failed too. They are often put into situations they have no idea of how to act in, and often work unsupervised, untrained and very understaffed.
I do completely blame the stupid money grabbing greed of the corporate investment and capital finance world who insist on making care a business with huge profit margins to make.
If the corporate big wigs took less profit, carers could have more training, go through more rigorous recruitment schedules and see care as a “career” and not just as a temporary stop gap that they fully resent until something better comes along.
I also appreciate the wonderful carers who do exist out there, and for whom people who act like those in Ash Croft and Castlebeck give a bad name. How must they feel to see what goes on in the no hope homes?
Yours disgustedly at seeing more evidence of senseless abuse.