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Undercover Elder Care on Panorama – Abuse of our Elderly – Rant Corner

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.

Scottish Mum Blog

10 thoughts on “Undercover Elder Care on Panorama – Abuse of our Elderly – Rant Corner

  1. There are many health problems face by the elders and need support to do their daily life work. Homecare services should be hired to give them best care and to cure their health problems.

  2. So shocking.. it saddens me it really does. you should have dignity in your old age .

  3. As a nurse and someone whose gran is in a care home, this story just sickened me. I couldn’t watch the programme. I had seen the snippet on BBC news and that was enough to make me angry.

    I have worked with people like those carers, mostly, but not exclusively, foreign nurses, who don’t give a damn, who talk over the patient, or worse talk in their native language. And although I’ve not seen abuse to that degree, I have seen mistreating of patients and it seems no matter how much you report them to your senior, it never gets dealt with. Or they are given the benefit of the doubt and you are branded a racist. It’s sad, but true unfortunately.

    I got I to nursing because I love to look after people. Especially the older people. They have such great stories to tell. They are more than just an old person or an illness. They have interesting pasts, families like you or I and at one time were just as able as you or I. It’s even more important to treat them with the respect and dignity you would your own parent. I could never treat anyone that way. I can’t even imagine what kind of frame of mind you would have to be in to do something like that. I’ve stopped watching Emmerdale at the moment because of the Ashley/Sandy storyline where he is physically hitting his father. It makes me sick.

    It really makes me wonder why people get into the nursing/caring profession when they clearly just don’t care. Its clearly not the right job for them. I believe you have to have a certain temperament/personality to be a nurse/carer. If you can’t treat someone the way you would want others to treat you, then get a job where you don’t have to deal with the public.

    Sorry I seem to have ranted on. It just makes me so angry.

    1. I have acquaintances that are similarily self centred I would say. An acquaintance talks to her family when I am there in her native language and it drives me nuts as is so rude and unnecessary, but to keep the peace, I have never said anything as otherwise she is normally very pleasant to me.

      How must it make people reliant on non communicative staff for their care. If they weren’t struggling before they got to those situations, they certainly would struggle after a short time living like that.

      Every programme that comes out like really affects me now. Perhaps it’s getting older or having a child who will rely on others as he gets older that causes it, but I struggle to understand how people just don’t care.

      Feel free to rant on my blog. That’s how this one started off. x

  4. Have discussed this issue in great detail with my 21 yr old daughter who is currently working in a care home while waiting to start an Occupational therapy course in Sep. She is in a very good home and they were all horrified at this programme- but we are seeing too much of this type of thing. The bottom line is that anyone who wants a job in this industry gets it as long as they have CRB checks – but it takes a certain type of temperament (which my daughter has) to flourish and enjoy a job like this. The pay is appalling and paying a fair wage would attract better applicants and they could then screen for the best people and train properly.
    My daughter worked for a few weeks in Care in the community but she had to leave as she could not handle the working conditions- she is a very caring person and couldn’t handle the fact she had 10 mins to give someone their meal and had to be off to the next place- as well as her own position- stress , min wage no fuel allowance and extreme working hours- given 10mins for a 20 min joirney across town etc. Too many reports come out, but nothing happens- all talk and too much money beiing earned by someone. It costs a £1,000 a week to stay in a home- staff are paid min wage- someone is coining it in.
    I could go on and on- makes my blood boil. Glad to see Fiona Phillips working so hard on this- shows much more to her than her GMTV persona


    1. Its really scary if all they need is a clear CRB check. I didn’t realise the entry requirements were so low. That makes it all the more likely to happen again, sadly.

      The money issue and done for profit is where I struggle. Sadly looks like NHS is going down that route too, which is even worse for elderly people i would imagine. I’m sorry your daughter had such a bad experience. It really shouldn’t happen this way at all.

      The people making the finance decisions can all afford expensive care for their families, so the rest of us are just the throwaway great unwashed to them. I have no idea how it took me so long to realise that. Blinkered youth when I was younger I guess.

  5. I watched some of the programme too and like the Winterbourne case was very upset at what I watched. I have also spennt time visiting my grandmother in a home; she was in the latter stages of alzheimers disease and was in a place where there were similarly affected residents. These residents were not aggressive or violent due to their illness but were passive and often would just sit there. I didn’t find the home a difficult place to visit and I felt the residents had a good quality of care but what was lacking was stimulation. The television or radio was often on in the background but there weren’t enough attempts (in my opinion) to engage the residents in conversation. I realise that many of the people were very ill and largely non-verbal but I would liked to have seen some evidence of more human interaction between the patients and the staff.

    More generallly though I think we have a shocking attitude to care in the UK; it is not seen as a vocation and those that do it are poorly paid and undersupported in my opinion. It doesn’t help either that we have a poor regulatory body and a government that is so obsessed with making money that its putting the lives of vulnerable at risk. And that’s the hub of it really; we now live in a society that is so self-obsessed, individualistic and greedy that caring for other people is way down in peoples priorities.

    Its worrying.


    1. The Winterbourne one was the worst I have ever seen, and this so close after it is just incredible. I can’t even begin to understand the hopelessness that the people being treated like that must suffer. The most difficult bit for me is the knowledge that what is happening will get worse and less support and money available for the vulnerable already.

      It worries me more and more as time goes on, and as I get older too.

      Thanks Deb


  6. Sickens me to see the abuse of the elderly in care homes and daily in society. Culturally I have been brought up with the deepest respect for my elderly relatives and it’s a crying shame this seems to be lacking in Britain today.

    1. Almost all the educated families teaches to respect elderly persons around them. Still they abuse it the most. I wonder, how people can forget the sacrifices of their parents and misbehave with them. 🙁 . It’s a shame.

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