My mum in a residential care home in the summer of 1998.
I was happy with the level of care given here but as her dementia became more profound so did her level of violence and Mum had to be placed in a nursing home facility for the elderly mentally ill, which included people with Alzheimer's disease.
Two and a half years later. This is the face of abuse and neglect. Joan was left alone in a cold room, deprived of social interaction. Forced to sit in her own urine until she developed sores. Inadequately fed because it took too long to feed her. Unable to walk or even speak all she could do was scream and she did.
This is often the point when family, who have struggled to meet the needs of their loved one, realise that the pressure of 24/7 care is overwhelming and also destroying the relationship between them and the one they’re caring for. It is then that they turn to a special unit for people who have Alzheimer’s disease or a nursing home, where a percentage of their residents will have Alzheimer’s, often cared for in a separate area of their facility but not always.
the majority of care home in the UK are private businesses now and therefore their residents are customers, whether they are privately funded or their fees are paid for by their local authority.
At whatever point this transition takes place, relatives believe or hope that these ‘homes’ will give good care, not forgetting that fees in excess of £1000 per week is not considered gasp-worthy today except to people like me, who have been on both sides of the fence and know only too well how poorly paid care staff are.
Mum’s nursing home niftily avoided the fallout of my formal complaints by closing their doors, some months after I removed my mother and placed her in my care. I don’t pride myself that I was the catalyst. Mine wasn’t the only complaint.
The premises changed their use to something unrelated to the elderly for a while but re-invented themselves and re-opened as a care home a few years later.
New business – clean sheet.
The reason why I’m talking about this now, twelve years after Mum’s death, has been prompted by the headline in my local paper, the Ashford Herald, this week.
TWO CARE HOMES ARE ‘INADEQUATE.’ Watchdog puts pair of town elderly care facilities into special measures
Two care homes ‘have received damning inspection results from the care quality commission (CQC) and have been placed into special measures.’
About the one home: ‘Inspectors said that "risks to people's safety and welfare had not always been appropriately addressed," "there were not enough staff to meet people's needs," and that "staff training had not always been effective and there were gaps in staff knowledge in some areas."
They added that while most staff "were gentle and respectful" others were "less so" and people's dignity at the home "was not always adequately protected."
One relative told the inspectors that their family member was "receiving better care here than in hospital" but another relative told them "I feel I have to come in all the time" just to make sure the person receiving care was alright.”’
The other home: ‘provides accommodation and personal and nursing care for up to 88 older people. There are two residential units in the home which accommodate people with nursing needs, and two which accommodate people living with dementia.
Inspectors noted that "risks to people's safety and welfare had not always been appropriately addressed" at the home.
They said that "actions to minimise identified risks to people had not been carried out in practice, leaving people exposed to risk of harm. This included people who had experienced repeated falls and those who were at risk of skin breakdowns."
They also said that while carers at the centre were generally kind and compassionate, they were let down by a serious lack of staff. Could lack of serious pay be a culprit here?
Despite the criticism from the CQC, they admitted that many of the people staying at the home thought it was "marvellous.”’ Well, in their position, they would say that wouldn’t they.
It’s a depressing scenario and one that, with the growing number of baby boomer elderly likely to require residential care at some point, is a cause for concern.