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
When my Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, 6 years ago, it was recommended that I look for a care home. I was fortunate enough to have already been entertaining, for over 20 years, at a variety of care homes in the surrounding areas, so I had an idea of the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
My choice was focused not only on good care, but also on which home could provide the best Activities. My Mother sang in her youth and I knew it would be particularly important for her to be kept stimulated. I was happy with my choice initially, but I was not aware, however, how quickly things can change in care homes and I was forced to move her twice in the first 3 years due to failings.
Holly Lodge, in Chatham, Kent, was Mum’s third care home. Things started well. I was met by a lovely Assistant Manager. The home was clean and the staff seemed friendly. It was close to me and meant that I could visit daily if I wished. It transpired that I needed to. I was aware, initially, of the lack of Activities but I knew I could cover that aspect. Further, my Mother would have to travel to her 1st floor bedroom, the only room available when she arrived, by stair lift. The home didn’t have a regular lift. I wasn’t happy about this and asked if she could be moved to a ground floor room when one became available. I asked about the possibility, from time to time, but I was always told that “she had settled into using the stair lift”. This was also stated in her care plan.
Shortly after my Mother moved into Holly Lodge however, the Assistant Manager resigned and the Manager left, some time after. The owner took charge of management which I feel was a mistake. I was to find that support, honesty and transparency were not practiced at this home.
The food provided was of poor quality and I felt forced to take supper in, daily, for my Mother, so she had some proper nutrition. I considered packet soup and jam sandwiches wouldn’t quite suffice. Even lunch might consist of pasta with a spoon of tinned tomatoes and half a tinned hot dog (see pics). It was not good enough.
Some of the carers shouted at the residents and appeared to have little or no training in dementia, together with a lack of training in other areas too. During a discussion about Activities one Senior Carer stated “this lot are too far gone”. The same Carer stated, shortly before it was decided that my Mother should be moved elsewhere, that I was a “f****** nuisance” for asking for help to stand her, so she could get some exercise.
I had been informed by staff that my Mother’s mobility was becoming poor. She was always wheel-chaired everywhere, so no surprises there. When she suffered a second heart attack, the owners of Holly Lodge did not arrange for the recommended OT or Physio to visit. The local GP suggested “we just forget about it”. Despite being told about my Mother’s lack of mobility, however, a member of staff informed me that she had ‘gone missing’ from the toilet and found by the fire escape. This brought into question her safety, as her room was at the top of the stairs and there was no gate or barrier. I was told this was an isolated incident!
Following this, I stayed late one evening and spoke with the night shift carers. I was interested to learn if my Mother often ‘got up’ unaided. I was told that she did! I was also told that she had most certainly NOT settled into using the stair lift. When I approached the owner about this, it was denied. I was informed that one of the residents (affected by dementia), since passed, used to scream all the way up and down in the stair lift, as if that should console me?!
I filmed my Mother in the stair lift, with the permission of the carers. They made suggestions and took over some of the recording. It was quite clear my Mother was uncomfortable with it. The myriad of physical ailments would have also played a part in her discomfort.
There followed a ‘Best Interests’ Meeting. Essex Social Services did not want to pay for my Mother to move to a Ground Floor Room and I could not use her money to pay the top up. I was not in a financial position to cover the top up myself. The owner did not support my Mother. The GP - who arrived with a flu jab (despite my Mother’s records and care plan stating an allergy) - appeared to have little or no interest or knowledge of dementia and how the daily use of stair lift might affect my Mother.
I was forced to engage a Solicitor and a private OT to confirm my Mother’s ‘need’ to move to a Ground Floor Room. This was carried out, but shortly after, more problems arose at Holly Lodge; too many to list.
CCTV in communal areas could have addressed practically all my concerns. Many of the issues could not, then, have been denied by the owner.
It was decided at another 'Best Interests' Meeting, last July, that my Mother be moved to another home. It is further away from me, but I had confidence that I would no longer need to visit every day. I was correct. The new home is, thankfully, excellent and my Mother hasn’t looked so well in a long time.
My thanks to Jayne Connery, Care Campaign for the Vulnerable, for her endless support.
"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
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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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