In our work supporting those who have suffered due to neglect or abuse in care and residential homes we often speak to relatives who have regrets over the decision they made when choosing a home for their loved ones.
It is always a difficult time for families. They often feel a sense of guilt and responsibility for what has happened to their relative or loved one, but this should not be the case.
Abuse and neglect simply should not happen in any care or residential facility, and it is why we at Hudgell Solicitors launched our ‘Give Me Dignity’ campaign.
It calls for vulnerable and elderly people in any form of healthcare to be loved, protected, respected and cared for with dignity at all times. Nothing less, in our view, represents true care.
It is fair to say that for most families, choosing a care home for a relative is a challenge they are not prepared for.
Many tell us they make decisions based on location (to ensure visiting is convenient), by reading the home’s own websites, and from visits to the homes to meet staff and see residents in the day to day environment.
Of course, visiting a home and meeting staff to find out how they work and how they look after residents is a must.
First impressions count and you will certainly get a feel for the compassion and care provided, the cleanliness of the facilities, quality of food and the interaction between staff and residents.
However, we know from our work that care provided to residents can be very different when relatives have left their side and returned home.
Care Home websites are not an independent view – check what inspectors say
It is also important to stress the importance of not just looking at care home brochures and websites, which are aimed solely at convincing people to choose the home, as they do not provide an independent view.
In a recent review conducted by our team of inspections into care homes in England, we found one with a website which said it had a friendly and welcoming environment, an outstanding reputation for providing quality care and atmosphere, was a ‘home-from-home for everyone’, promising to ‘exceed expectations’ with the ‘highest standards of care in a comfortable and safe environment.’
However, inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated it ‘inadequate’ – the lowest rating – in all areas of performance and said it could face possible forced closure unless standards improved. Inspectors said they found residents at risk of not receiving their medicines when needed, their nutritional needs not always being met, not enough detail being given to guide staff about the care and support required and practices which showed a lack of respect for people and compromised their dignity.
Two very different stories indeed!
Our team recently conducted a review of all CQC inspections, which can be found by search on its website.
Care homes can be searched on name and location, and their latest inspection reports can be read.
They are easy to understand and use a traffic light scoring system of green for ‘good’, yellow for ‘requires improvement’ and red for ‘inadequate’. Outstanding facilities gain a green star – and there are more than 350 rated outstanding overall in England.
During our research, we found more than 260 care and residential homes rated as inadequate – 14 of which had the lowest ranking in all areas of care in reports published since July 1 2017.
These homes have been the subject of national media coverage given the poor findings of inspectors.
In addition to checking reports, we advise visiting homes at different times of the day to get a feel for how it is, and that relatives ask to see rooms and meet plenty of staff. You should also ask about daily routines to see if you feel it is suitable, and whether it is an environment suited to your loved one.
Ask to see accreditations and awards, what training staff have and how relevant it is to your relative, particularly if they suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, as they should be able to demonstrate their specialist care and training.
We know choosing a care home can be hugely challenging, and we hope that this advice is helpful should you be seeking somewhere which will love, protect and respect your relative when they need help and support the most.