Two recent reports into care home standards across the UK have made for very sad reading, highlighting increasing neglect and abuse.
Figures released by social care minister Caroline Dinenage in response to a parliamentary question showed there were 67,590 allegations of abuse received by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year.
That was a rise of 82 per cent compared with 2014, when the figure was 37,060.
Of course, this sharp rise may be partly contributed to by increased awareness and families and relatives now being more prepared to raise concerns and speak out. It is to be hoped that is the case.
However, the fact that we are seeing so many allegations is simply horrifying and highlights why we at Hudgell Solicitors have previously labelled abuse and neglect in care homes as one of, if not the most harrowing and heartbreaking repeated failures of the health system.
Care homes failing to provide adequate dental care
Alongside this report of increased allegations of abuse has been a CQC report which has highlighted both a lack of access to dentists and insufficient support provided by care home staff.
It has led to the British Dental Association (BDA) going as far as saying that some care homes are leaving residents’ teeth to rot.
The CQC inspected 100 homes caring for elderly and disabled people and found around half did not provide training to their staff on oral health care, while nearly-three quarters of individual care plans did not cover oral health sufficiently.
One in six care homes also said they did not assess residents’ oral health on admission and one in three said they could not always access dental care.
This is a completely inadequate situation as how can a care facility manage oral health of a new resident if they don’t even know the starting situation, and then don’t have access to care when required? It is truly shocking.
Our team at Hudgell Solicitors have encountered cases of both abuse and neglect.
We represented the family of Freda Jobson, whose family caught care home staff being abusive towards her by using a hidden camera. Freda also suffered from neglectful care, suffering from pressure sores amongst the worst our team have ever seen.
We also handled a case in which a care home failed to provide any dental care to an elderly resident with memory loss for almost six years – leading to him losing 24 teeth and needing emergency hospital treatment.
Such examples of neglectful and abusive care are why we as a firm have continually called for improved standards in care homes and campaigned for law changes to better protect residents.
This has included leading a petition to the Government calling on it to consider CCTV in all care homes, and our ‘Give Me Dignity’ campaign last year in which we used CQC inspection reports to name and shame the worst performing care homes in the country in the national press.
As I mentioned earlier, perhaps the only positive to take from these most recent reports is that families are fighting poor care and becoming more prepared to highlight it and challenge care homes when they have concerns.
However, without stronger enforcement and punishments, from the homes themselves to the Government body responsible for upholding care standards, we will no doubt continue to hear from many families going through heartbreaking times.
We are always willing to listen and are passionate about challenging neglect and abuse in care homes, as we know it is only by holding people to account and exposing their failings that we can drive positive change, and ensure better standards for all who turn to care for love, protection respect and dignity in later life.