Campaigning Lisa Smith is calling for CCTV to be installed in every care and residential home in the UK – saying four years of her father being in care proved a ‘living nightmare’.
Lisa, 34, of Rochdale, took her 86-year-old father Joshua, who suffers from dementia, out of care on Christmas Eve, reuniting him with his wife of more than 50 years, Sheila.
The couple require round-the-clock support and care, support which was so demanding that Lisa, who was juggling her own busy family life when her father’s health deteriorated four years ago, took the incredibly tough decision to put him into care.
Her mother Sheila had been finding it too difficult to look after him, making her unwell too, and at that time, care looked the best option for all.
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However, having seen her father’s health suffer, and heartbroken at the standard of care provided to him over the past four years, Lisa came to the conclusion that there was only one option left – he was coming back home.
“It has been horrendous, a living nightmare from the first moment he went into care, and in the end, I just decided enough was enough and that the best option was to bring him home, as no matter how difficult it may be, at least I know he’ll be genuinely loved, cared for, and happy,” she said.
“He came home on Christmas Eve and the difference in him has been amazing. His dementia doesn’t seem to be as bad, he isn’t anxious at all, and he looks healthier than he has for years. People who see him can’t believe how well he has started to look.”
Lisa, 34, has two daughters herself, aged 13 and 12. She holds down a job as a care worker supporting people with mental health issues, and has a third child on the way in two months’ time.
Now, looking after her parents is proving almost a full-time job itself, although her friend has secured funding to provide 20 hours of extra home care support also.
“It’s very hard, but at least I know he is being cared for properly, as is my mum, and that it is being done with love. My dad is a different person now he is out, and he’s not taking any medication at all. My mum seems much better too,” Lisa said.
“I drop my two girls off at school, and then I head straight to my mum and dad’s and spend all day with them. I then pick my children up, and go back later on at night to do their dinners for them and see they have all they need on the night.
“My partner, Robert, has been a great support, as it is tough on the whole family, but he understands why I have needed to do this to look after my dad. You have to be there for them.”
Lisa says the final straw came when her father suffered a fall in October of last year. Despite her concerns, and suffering bruising and cuts to his head, she says staff insisted he didn’t need hospital treatment.
Days later, Lisa says her father was found unresponsive in his room. When in hospital, she says she learned for the first time that medication to manage his anxiety had been increased substantially, a change she had been completely unaware of.
She said: “Nobody seemed to be putting my dad first. For me it was the final straw. Almost every week I was being called saying there had been a problem, such as he’d had a fall, or that he had been pushed by another resident, or even that he was being aggressive to others in the home, which just isn’t my dad at all. It just became too much.
“You expect professional carers to be able to handle residents in these situations, and do it with care and compassion, but that wasn’t the case at all as far as I am concerned. I just thought ‘that’s it, he’s coming out’.”
Lisa has now established a Government e-petition, calling for CCTV cameras to be compulsory in all care homes across the UK, to protect vulnerable people.
If the petition secures 10,000 signatures, she will receive an official response from the Government. 100,000 signatures could lead to the issue being debated in Parliament.
She said: “I set up the petition because I really feel this situation has to stop. Our families, friends and loved ones deserve to receive the highest standard of care as possible while maintaining their human rights and dignity at all times.
“This is certainly not the case now, as can be seen through the many cases of abuse and neglect publicised. How many more cases are happening where families are simply unaware?”
Her Facebook page, “Protect the vulnerable, install CCTV cameras now’, is gathering support, and Hudgell Solicitors has been delighted to support the petition through our Love Our Vulnerable and Elderly (LOVE) campaign.
Our campaign, supporting the call for CCTV in care homes, aims to ensure the vulnerable and elderly are loved, protected, respected and treated with dignity at all times when in care.
To sign the petition, click here