Posted on 10 Comments

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

Posted on 31 Comments

Abuse at Winterburn View, Castlebeck (Panorama) It Needs MORE Than Arrests

Anyone who knows me is going to know what I am going to say about this hospital.   The abuse at Winterburn View, the Castlebeck Private Hospital has shaken me considerably.  These abused people are CHILDREN.  They are in big bodies, but they are CHILDREN.    Picture your two, or three, or four year old being treated like that.

I came home from a fabulous show last night, watching the Shaolin Warriors in Aberdeen (blog post later in the week), and saw some tweets in my inbox about a Panorama Programme that had made people cry.  I also got the impression that it involved special needs and vulnerable adults with learning difficulties and autism.  Watch the programme on Iplayer HERE

I quickly booted up BBC Iplayer at 1am and began watching.  It was riveting viewing, and once I had switched it on, I couldn’t switch it off again.   It was very much more than I had expected when I began to watch.   The extent of the abuse shown on the documentary had me speechless.    I thought they might be talking about a few punches, a couple of isolated asssaults, and that would have been bad enough – but the extent of it, I have no words to express.  The lad who carried the cameras has stamina and strength to be able to keep going back and into that environment.  Thank goodness for his perseverance to help those vulnerable people, who are hopefully all now safe.

How those abused people felt, I cannot even begin to imagine.    The final scenes with Simone were so bad that it makes me despair.    Our children tend not to tell the truth, or not know the difference between truth and fantasy,  so I can fully understand her parents dilemma when she told them she was being attacked, and they didn’t believe her.  Special needs children suffer from the boy who cried wolf too often.  How her parents feel now, knowing that on this occasion she was telling them what was actually happening to her, rather than imagining something from watching a film or playing a video nasty I have no idea.  I do know that they will never forgive themselves for it.

The Care Quality Commission (CTC) quite frankly seemed toothless.   They came across as paying lip service to form filling and happy with well behaved staff once the door was unlocked to the locked wards.   There was no evidence of activity schedules, or plans for moving back to the general public (from the documentary) – yet, they thought that was nothing to be concerned about.  That should have raised a country sized red flag.  And as for not taking notice of the complaints made by a respected member of staff in the field, Terry Bryan – it shows how little anyone really cared.

One programme later, and it all comes out of the woodwork.  Castlebeck should be taken to account for this.  It is NOT enough to say they are “sorry,” or they are “ashamed”.    If they cared, they would have investigated before they were publically held to account by Panorama.

It is NOT the sole blame of the carers behaving badly here – it is the management of the home who allowed the environment to move in that direction.    And while I am at it, where were the social workers under whose charge the patients should have been assisted?  Why aren’t social workers head rolling on this as well?  Why was the ward locked with no family allowed in or out?   That speaks volumes.   The doctors who must have been aware of unrealistic levels of accidents, bruises, injuries and trauma, but turned a blind eye.

Bored special needs people will strop, they will have tantrums, and they will use language without thinking of the consequences at the time.   Punishment does not lead to better behaviour, or make them think before they act in the future.

I am horrified that Castlebeck have so many other establishments out there.  I just hope there are responsible staff in those.

I am not niave enough to think that Winterburn View is the only place in the UK where vulnerable people are being abused, but I do expect the watchdogs to be on top of them, and keep it to a minimum.    Some of the abuse they suffered on camera had the potential to kill.  It was systematic, targetted, and daily.  How could they miss that?

As a parent of a special needs child who will grow up into a special needs adult, and who might at some stage in his life, need adult care outwith the home for extended periods of time – I am sick to the stomach.

Yes, those of you who are parents of neuro typicals are going to see that it’s shocking, distressing, and that it shouldn’t happen, but social care is never actually going to be something that you have to consider, or be subject to  for your children.

We are knocking on the door of respite for the first time ever, and as a family we need it to start to cope with him long term at home.

The thought that my most vulnerable child could suffer at the hands of bullies like that is already making me think twice about where he goes.  He is growing up and needs to see more of the world outside his home cocoon, so I work though it.

As a grown up, I have to be realistic, and try to see the good in people.  Sadly, through circumstances, potential and his educational experience, all I see is the potential for harm.   When any male teacher, or charity worker deals with us, I don’t think “nice man”.   I look, smile, ask questions, engage them in conversation, and through gritted teeth, accept that I must trust him.   I do look, and I try VERY HARD to find something that makes me uneasy about him (or her).   When he leaves with a carer, my heart beats fast, and I panic fleetingly in case I have just handed my child over to a psychopath.

I also know, that if the day comes that my son accuses one of his carers of hitting him, I am not going to know if it is the truth, or if he is imagining a film he saw ten years earlier, or if it was a dream that has upset him.    The only thing I would be able to do is remove him from the carer, as leaving a situation like that until proof was found could be too late.    What about when we are no longer able to look after his interests.  Then, he is at the mercy of strangers, social workers, doctors, management and staff.

  • Our world saddens me.
  • My lack of trust in strangers, neighbours and friends saddens me.
  • I don’t know how to live with that fear.
  • We must live with that fear and we must trust strangers, neighbours and friends if we are to have fulfilling lives.
  • We must live with the consequences.
  • We must make it better for those who are still in places like Winterburn View.
  • We must reach out and help those who cannot help themselves.
  • We must NOT turn a blind eye.

I am not relieved that these patients have been moved to “safety”.  I am sick to my stomach about it.  Physically.

Their lives will now never be healed.  They will mostly lack the ability to reason that the danger has now passed.  The rest of their lives will be spent in fear.

Will they be moved to a place that is any safer?

How many other “Winterburns” are there out there?

And before  I end this – what do I think of the reporter that did not intervene during that last horrific day of abuse in fear of blowing his cover?  I love him for outing it, but also can’t understand why he didn’t immediately go to the police.  What about the BBC who allowed it to keep going until the programme aired – they also fostered allowing it to happen for those days.

I would like to think the last footage was filmed on Sunday, someone please tell me that was what happened.

I have just heard that filming was Feb / March.   That also saddens me.   That was another 2 whole months after this footage was taken – BEFORE they were rescued.

Bloggers With Excellent Posts
Benefit Scrounging Scum – Imagine You Were Four #panorama

The Small Places – Last Nights Panarama – Anatomy of a Scandal

A Boy With Aspergers – Behind Closed Doors