It's time for the care sector to start thinking 'technology' smart. Not just for the protection and safeguarding of our most vulnerable but for the professionals who value their reputation as good, conscientious led Care Providers. Our most vulnerable and their carers deserve no lessJayne Connery
My family and I have had a very difficult year in a care home with one of the UK’s biggest care providers where my dad Charlie is a resident. He was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2011 and suffered a rapid decline, living in a number of different care homes until moving to this care home in late 2014. He is resident , in a three storey purpose built home with the two lower floors housing units requiring less care. My fathers condition is severe, needed constant care, doubly incontinent, requiring assistance with eating and all personal care. He does not know my sister, my brother or myself. He has no memories of our mum Edna who he was married to for over 60 years. She died in late 2011, the small mercy being that she never saw how quickly the disease took her husband, our dad away. It also meant that in the early stages of the disease he would forget that she had died and have to be reminded of it. Later on the disease took all memory of his wife and marriage away. The issues with the care home and the provider started earlier this year. I was initially contacted by the Council Safeguarding Team with the shocking news that two whistle-blowers had come forward making various allegations that included my father. Specifically in my dads case this was two different allegations of assault by a member of staff. The shock, guilt and anger this made us feel is not something that is easy to describe to someone who has not been through this. This was the man who had brought us up, cared for us, worked to better himself to give us the best possible start in life. The man who would do anything for any of his three kids and wife and it felt like we had let him down. All we knew was that this member of staff was from an agency and was no longer working there and there was an ongoing Police investigation. I was asked about my dad being interviewed which I had no problem with. I did explain that he would be totally unable to give them any evidence or recall any of these events. This proved to be the case.CQC had made an unannounced visit in November 2017 on the back of the whistle-blowers coming forward. In total they spent 5 days across November 2017 to February 2018. The subsequent report rated them overall as ‘inadequate’ and put the home into ‘special measures’ finding breaches that related to the safe delivery of care and treatment, safeguarding, staffing, recruitment and overall insight and governance of the service. There were 6 individual safeguarding referrals made to the Council. The care home were given 6 months to make improvements or face the enforcement procedures through CQC. The report was published on 20th March.I attended a meeting on 27th April 2018 when a new manager was appointed for the unit. He discussed the issues that the home had faced, including difficulties in recruiting staff meaning they had to use agency staff. The higher costs of using agency staff meant the budget was stretched and money could not be spent in some areas of care. The first issue I have a problem with is how Four Seasons have their own agency. Temporary staff are recruited from their own agency, thereby paying themselves higher charges, whilst paying the staff only a part of the overall fee. It feels wrong, like being the poacher and the gamekeeper. The second issue, which I raised at that meeting was about recompense for failing to deliver. The Care Provider charge the fees they charge to deliver a top quality service. It had been proved that from at least November 2017 they had failed to deliver this. If we as individuals pay for any product or service, from a cup of coffee to a car that fails to deliver we can get our money back. This is extremely sensitive and emotional when it comes to our loved ones but I felt that this profitable Care Provider should recompense individuals and the local authorities where they were paying for this service. I was told that the question would be put to their lawyers.
At this meeting the new manager also told me that the Police case had been dropped which was another shock to us.
Over the following week it was confirmed by the council and when I contacted North Yorkshire Police that this was the case. The Police apologised as it was their responsibility to tell me. The reason was that the Crown Prosecution Service felt that ‘there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction’. As my fathers condition means he is totally incapable of providing any evidence himself this was very upsetting. I asked about taking this further as we were very angry about what had happened to our father, but told there was no way to go forward. The carer accused was no longer working in the care sector and notes had ben made so they would be unable to ever work in the sector again, should they apply. I did manage to find one other family who had been affected by issues highlighted by the whistle-blowers. I spoke to a lady whose father had subsequently died following an operation after a fall. This was a separate case but related to the same carer. She was pursuing a civil case as well as there being a Police investigation. In late July I was contacted by the Safeguarding unit at the council who told me another whistle-blower had come forward and there were two issues relating to my fathers care. Firstly, that he was not being turned every 2 hours, which is part of his care package. Secondly, that a member of staff dealing with another resident had locked several residents, including my dad, in their rooms. Subsequently, it transpired my dada had not been locked in his room it was just the issue of not following his care plan. On the 1st August they contacted me again as a families meeting had been arranged for 2nd August and although they could not tell me what it was about, it was important that I be there. My sister and I both attended this meeting. There were several representatives from local authority bodies present, MD of this Provider and Regional Manager. It quickly transpired that the CQC inspection, as a result of the whistle-blower, found that in the Unit where my father was resident further issues had come to light. In discussions between the council and the provider had decided they could not get the unit up to standard so would close it. They would keep it open until all the residents had been found other places but the unit was closing. This was so shocking, emotional and stressful that the rest of the meeting was very difficult. To me this was a decision taken to close the unit as they could not get it right, In doing so they avoid financial penalties from the CQC for failing to meet the 6 month deadline. I am sure they will reopen this unit at a later date but offer a lower level of care. I asked about recompense for individuals and local authorities. Average weekly mortgage payments from the ONS for 2016/17 were £155, care homes fees of £1,000 a week are commonplace. Families are making their biggest ever financial investment and being treated appallingly. The M.D. offered to talk to me outside of the meeting. I refused, insisting that it was not about my personal issue but about every family and resident affected by their outrageous decision and failure to provide what they had been paid to do. This never happened.
To say that my sister and I were shocked and angry would be an understatement. We both felt huge guilt that dad was now going through all this change. Dementia patients do not cope well with change and this could shorten their lives.
I was so angry and wanted to lash out somehow. I contacted the Evening Press who had run an article in March about the initial CQC and Police issues. They ran a small piece on the 8th August. In that piece Chief Operating Officer for this Care Provider responded. On the same day I sent her a recorded delivery letter, copied to the newspaper asking her to answer the question about recompense for families and local authorities. Not having had any reply by 17th August I sent another letter, including a copy of the first to her again. I asked her to acknowledge receipt of my letters and give me a timetable of how long it would take to get a full response to my query. As of today, as I write this I have not had any response via phone, e-mail or letter. In the last week we have had 3 homes go out to assess my father before confirming if they would take him. All three have said they would not offer him a place. As the care he requires is such a high level, it feels like other care homes can now cherry pick the other residents affected because their care may be less complicated and therefore less expensive. Profit before care! The care my father needed in the early stages was lower but as his condition deteriorates it becomes more expensive, feeling like he becomes a cost to be reduced not a loving father and husband who needs care. The emotional trauma we have gone through this year is unbelievable. I hold this Care Provider entirely responsible for this. And these are the core issues I have with them –
They have avoided any penalty for failing to meet the standards or improving the service to meet the standards. They have done this by closing the unit.
Care homes using their own in-house agencies to recruit staff. Where is the incentive when they are paying themselves exorbitant fees to another arm of their business?
Taking money for services they have not delivered without offering any recompense for their failure to deliver. The monies involved are enormous. I have now asked this care provider to answer this question at meetings on 27th April, 2nd August and in two letters dated 8th and 17th August. How do we respond ?
Dumping higher dependency residents as their personal care costs escalate.
This is a shocking situation, how do we stop the injustice ?’
"The evidence from Providers who have installed CCTV seems to me to merit careful attention and to be quite persuasive"
Just some of the Care Providers who support our CCTV Safety Monitoring in Care Homes
Download their 'Safety Monitoring In Communal Areas in Care Homes' document
British Actress Aimi Macdonald is Care Campaign for the Vulnerable Ambassador - raising public awareness for better, safer, transparent care within the care sector.
I am delighted to be invited as a Ambassador to assist in this wonderful campaign instigated by Jayne Connery regarding CCTV security in care homes throughout the UK. This, I feel, will benefit carers, staff, residents and their families in the event of any dispute. As a relative of someone suffering with Alzheimers disease I have been involved with care homes over the last ten years and I feel the knowledge I have can contribute to this very important initiative
Chiltern and South Bucks District Council SAFE PLACE SCHEME has called on Care Campaign for the Vulnerable to add our support to the initiative for those who are vulnerable in the community to get help if out and about and feeling scared , lost or confused.Read more
It's time for the care sector to start thinking 'technology' smart. Not just for the protection and safeguarding of our most vulnerable but for the professionals who value their reputation as good, conscientious led Care Providers. Our most vulnerable and their carers deserve no lessJayne Connery, Founder Care Campaign for the Vulnerable
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BREAKING NEWS: Public urged to speak up about experiences of care https://t.co/mc4wcxeUsn19/02/2019, 10:17am
How lucky we are! https://t.co/S69e5i65DL18/02/2019, 7:29pm