We could start with one of the most immediate blights on the elderly in this country – Elfansafetee. What moron dreamed this one up?
The HSE warns that bed bars should only be used if there is ‘no alternative’ as their use can be construed as an unlawful deprivation of liberty under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
And the result of that piece of idiocy can be seen in the photo top left. Then we have:
It goes on and on. As for care homes themselves:
What’s going on? Where’s the compassion of nurses? Where is any sort of “care” in care homes? These headlines were from the Mail, which admittedly likes its sensation. yet stories abound.
One Australian blogger friend wrote that she’d heard from a lady in this country, via a forum, whose mother was in a nursing home and was having a tough time of it. Her mother had fallen many times [thoughts of the case at the top of the post] and staff had not been there to help. This “lady forum user” was at the end of her tether.
To be fair, the elderly lady has, as many have, increasing dementia and the nursing home is shortstaffed. Shortstaffed is the word and perhaps this has something to do with it:
I was asked if I could publicize this situation but as I know nothing about it, I had to ask. One blogger who knows a fair bit about such things is Witterings from Witney and so we Skyped, with me taking rough notes on advice I could give to the daughter about what to do concerning her mother. Hope I get this right:
The first thing is that there are care homes and care homes and it pays to visit those in your vicinity to observe, around mealtimes, say 11 a.m. The first thing is that there are care homes and care homes and it pays to visit those in your vicinity to observe, around mealtimes, say 11 am. If the home is council run, detailed notes should be with the local council.
Witterings spoke of checking whether it’s a tenured cook at the home or someone brought in. He spoke of cuts to councils from central government – these have impacted on local authorities who are losing money left, right and centre anyway on PCism and housing benefits.
He said to check whether the home tries to use agency workers or if there is a contract to cover holidays, sickness etc. It’s worth checking the policy on staff being asked to work overtime.
This apparently is also an issue in care homes:
Then there is the care home boss him/herself:
It seems wise advice to check the care home out thoroughly:
Then there is the arrangement within a local area re Housing Associations providing sheltered housing, as a result of a shortfall of places in care homes. Do HAs provide extra care to sheltered housing residents, in schemes with the addition of full time live in nursing care?
Witterings makes the point that HAs are so bound up in statutory requirements, ethnicity issues in staff, form filling, social policy issues and so on that this impinges on the quality of care.
Regarding the elderly lady in question, she keeps on falling and being left there without anyone doing anything. Witterings says the “lady forum user” has the right to get her mother transferred from one care home to another if the level of care can be shown to have been poor and she should get herself lasting power of attorney because the care home can then do nothing to her mother without her agreement. Apparently, that can cost £500-£600.
The Senior Officer at the home then goes over her care plan with the daughter and it requires a signature whether she’s happy or not with the arrangements.
Witterings advises that it’s as well to be familiar with and be able to quote from the care home act.
Regarding rent increases and service charges, landlords are meant to have consultations with tenants to determine service charge increases – there needs to be notification on something called Form 4B, 28 days prior to the increase.
There’s a Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, clause G which gives some protection to people in sheltered accommodation.
This underlines that many people such as our “lady forum user” have a knowledge deficit which can be overcome by checking. It’s as well to know that the bulk of council funding comes from Westminster, that councils are often ringfenced, that even something as diverse as the wardens wages can impinge on this, that councils do have other money from Westminster in general grants to spend as they see fit and it’s worth checking how much of this is spent in the care home area.
Apparently a localism act has just been enacted, which could impinge on care homes.
Witterings mentioned that Catalyst Housing [HA] are one of the few who believe in wardens or scheme managers employed by HA on a scheme, rather than being brought in itinerately. Under the last government, with a view to saving money, the idea was born of “floating support”, where someone like a scheme manager would look after 4 or 5 schemes – only visiting every 4 days or s0, for an hour or so. This is not on and could be the case with your care home for your parent.
Everything’s done to save money, rather than to provide care. As that manager said in the link above, it’s a “business” like any other. And so on.
As others see us
An American article addressed the issue of care on this side of the pond:
Fans of government health care keep telling us that government can do the job, and they point to countries like the UK as examples where single payer, government run health care systems deliver high quality, compassionate care.
They are either grossly ignorant or they are lying through their teeth.
A recent study by a British healthcare regulator finds that half of all elderly people in Britain’s nursing homes are being denied basic health services.
Some older people were forced to wait months for a doctor or nurse to treat simple health problems. No doubt they were waiting for the Bureau of Bedsore Management to review the proper procedures before issuing a bandage-changing permit.
Over the polite grumbling of many advocacy groups, the British Parliament can be faintly heard tinkering away at some far overdue legislation. No doubt the grannies will get some relief just as soon as the House of Commons passes some new laws, the House of Lords (whoever they have there now that they have chased the actual, you know, Lords out of it) sagaciously tinkers with it, the Queen signs it, the bureaucrats get all the regulations nicely written, and the memos and administrative procedures get delivered to the proper offices.
Of course, the National Health Care service has been around since the 1940s and somehow these lingering little problems haven’t quite been cleared up yet. It’s obviously just a question of getting the right regulations in place and any century now the system will by running like a fine tuned machine and there won’t be any problems at all.
There have been several disturbing revelations of abuse and neglect of patients and other mismanagement in the UK’s national health service. This report, suggesting massive neglect and abuse of the elderly, is, sadly, not alone.
Unfortunately the US Congress seems to have delivered some kind of misshapen system that will combine the bureaucracy and inefficiency of huge government programs with the cost structure of a private sector that is systematically distorted by perverse incentives and driven into overdrive by malpractice madness and defensive medicine.
But every cloud has a silver lining. If we ever do get single payer, government health care on this side of the Atlantic, we won’t have to worry about all those death panels critics keep warning us about. Given the bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in the system, patients can be confident that, abused and neglected as they will be in government-run nursing homes, they will die of old age before the death panels ever meet.
Who would get old or sick in this country? Leaving aside the state of pensions, the level of care for the elderly must be a major source of concern for both the elderly or their middle-aged children who need to arrange these things. It’s worth checking things such as:
Mark Wadsworth might be able to throw some light on that.
This has been a rambling and bitsy post, something which generally happens when the writer is not personally au fait with the situation and has to get snippets from elsewhere. I’m not sure how the “lady forum user” should proceed on the poor treatment of her mother and the physical damage she’s suffering.
It might be worthwhile her going along to her local Citizens Advice Bureau and/or check out their Advice Guide which covers such matters.
Perhaps some of you readers could throw some light on it all?
I’ll post this at both Orphans and at my place. If you can give some good advice, it would be appreciated.