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Failing care homes face special measures

Old hands resting on lap | Elderly abuse soars | Hudgell Solicitors


In a recent government announcement from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, care homes and home care providers who fail to meet new standards of practice will run the risk of being placed in special measures.

The scheme will be applied to 25,000 care homes and homecare services across the country, following the successful reform of 11 UK hospitals placed in special measures last year.

The new system aims to identify poor-performing services in an effort to improve standards of care across the board and reduce the rising number of care home neglect and abuse cases.

From October this year, care homes will be subject to more rigorous inspection processes and awarded a rating based on effective and appropriate means of care, patient compassion and staff competency. Those deemed to be inadequate will be placed in special measures and failure to improve could lead to services being closed down by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

When entrusting the care of a family member to a professional body, relatives need peace of mind that they will receive the care and attention they deserve. Whilst the great majority of care homes and homecare services are providing exceptional levels of service, instances of care home neglect are becoming an increasing cause for public concern.

Reports of elderly people being mistreated at the hands of care home staff have become more prevalent in recent years, with many relatives choosing to take legal action against the culpable institute and employees involved.

Care home neglect not only takes its toll on the health and well-being of the resident or patient, but can also be a harrowing experience for their relatives too. The support of legal professionals can be invaluable in securing a justified outcome from what is an extremely emotional ordeal.

It is hoped that the new standards will highlight poor care, allowing families to make more informed choices when it comes to selecting a care home provider and, ultimately, eradicating cases of care home neglect.

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23/07/2014 No Comments

Neglect of elderly in care homes highlighted in Panorama documentary

tv documentary


A TELEVISION documentary will tonight highlight incidents of elderly people being subjected to neglectful treatment in UK care homes.

It will not make easy viewing for anybody with a loved one currently living in a home, but I hope it will not scare most people, given what is likely to be highlighted is not the norm.

When people take the emotionally tough decision to place a relative in the care of others, the minimum they expect is that they be treated with care, respect and dignity.

Thankfully, in the majority of cases, that is exactly what happens. The vast majority of care home staff are hugely passionate about giving all residents the very best of care, and that it is why they choose to go into such a demanding job.  It’s not a job for the faint-hearted.

Staff often work in very difficult and trying circumstances, caring for people suffering from conditions such as dementia, and perhaps even caring for some residents who are regularly abusive themselves toward staff and other residents. Overall, they do a superb job in difficult conditions, and quite often with poor pay.

Unfortunately, as will be demonstrated in the BBC Panorama programme tonight, there are rare occasions when care is not as it should be.

If there is a key message to be taken from the documentary, it will surely be that in the absence of very strict care home rules, which would probably result in most people not choosing that employment, the role relatives can play in looking out for their loved ones is hugely important.

At Neil Hudgell Solicitors, as medical negligence specialists, we deal with many cases of care home neglect and abuse. They range from the more common cases of poor care, such as residents suffering from sores and pressure ulcers as they have not been moved, to outright abusive behaviour of staff.

In almost all cases, it is family members who play the key role in identifying any problems and challenging those responsible for letting their relatives down.

Interestingly, tonight’s documentary will show footage secured by a relative who secretly filmed inside a care home, such was their level of concern.

We ourselves have recently dealt with a case where a concerned daughter planted a tape recording devise in her mother’s wheelchair.

It gathered evidence which led to the care home conducting a full review of its care, resulting in the resignation of the manager, a police investigation, pending court action and an agreement from the home’s insurers to pay out compensation.

Sometimes the least visual abuse can be the most damaging. Carers shouting, threatening, or even ignoring residents may result in them being more fearful day to day.

If they have pressure ulcers, ask questions, as they simply shouldn’t with advances in technology regarding mattresses, and by taking simple measures such as regular repositioning.

Ask yourself if they appear malnourished or dehydrated, as this can happen if carers do not help their patients to eat and drink, or place their food and drink out of reach, and make sure they have had all of their medication.  Check to make sure they are clean and are so on a regular basis.  Check nails ands and feet.  In extreme cases check for bruising on arms and legs.  This can be innocent as the elderly are frail but should not be ignored.

Of course, staff will say your loved one has been well looked after, and forms filled in for the use of inspectors will paint a very positive picture.

But when you say your goodbyes and leave at the end of visiting hours, you will know whether you feel all is as it should be.

Quite simply, when you place a family member in care, your role in terms of looking out for them doesn’t stop. Tonight’s documentary will show it simply changes.

You may no longer be the one doing the physical caring, but you must ensure you are not the only one who truly cares.

As Solicitors this is one of the areas of law that is very difficult to challenge.  The footage in tonight’s programme is likely to explain why.

BBC Panorama’s Behind Closed Doors: Elderly Care Exposed will be broadcast on BBC1 at 9pm on Wednesday April 30.

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30/04/2014 No Comments

Families must fight for the rights of elderly NHS patients

By , medical negligence expert and senior solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors

FOR anybody who has a much-loved elderly family member currently in the care of the NHS, or perhaps a close relative who they know will soon be in need of hospital treatment, national newspaper headlines this week will have made very difficult reading.

England’s health watchdog Dame Julie Mellor has claimed tens of thousands of elderly patients are enduring appalling NHS care because they are simply too frightened or polite to complain.

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23/04/2014 No Comments

BBC Investigation Reveals Alarming Trend In Bed Sores

old woman in bed


It’s traumatic enough to see a loved one in hospital particularly if they’re frail and elderly.

But it’s even more upsetting to then discover that because they’ve not received appropriate treatment, they’ve developed pressure sores – or bed sores as they’re also commonly known.

Sadly, this is an all too common occurrence.

An investigation by the BBC’s Inside Out programme recently revealed that out of 12,000 serious incidents reported across England in the NHS, more than 40% related to bed sores.

With appropriate nursing care this could be easily avoided.

Pressure sores occur because of the failure to turn patients on a regular basis to relieve pressure on areas such as the heels or sacrum.  Research shows that 95% of pressure sores can be avoided through regular assessment and turning patients when required.

Some may be only small sores but others can be open wounds that can lead to serious complications which, if left untreated, can even lead to the need for plastic surgery or even amputation.

At Neil Hudgell Solicitors, we’ve a wealth of experience in dealing with compensation claims for pressure sores involving patients in hospitals and nursing and care homes.

As a specialist firm, we have vast experience of dealing with this type of claim involving patients staying in hospitals, nursing and care homes.

Because of our experience in dealing with this type of claim we know the documentation that should be within the records. These cases often turn upon the documentation and it’s important you have an expert on your side that can properly interpret and analyse those records.

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13/05/2013 No Comments

A positive step in NHS reforms after the Stafford enquiry

Stafford Hospital has graced the headlines for all the wrong reasons many times over the last few years. The Healthcare commission revealed a catalogue of errors and appalling standards that put patients at risk. The most basic elements of care were sadly neglected, calls for help to use the bathroom were ignored and patients were left lying in soiled bedding and sitting on commodes for hours. Some patients were left unwashed for up to a month. Food and drink was left out of reach of patients who had to rely on family members for assistance. Pain relief was provided late or not at all and patients were discharged inappropriately soon. Hygiene standards in particular were appalling with used dressings being left in public areas and families taking it upon themselves to clean toilets for fear of infection.

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18/01/2013 No Comments

Why there should be changes to care home regulation

care home worker


Neglect in care homes is something that we all worry about; from the point of view of our relatives who may have to live in a care home once they are unable to live independently and also from our own point of view as we get older.

The British population is aging as we all live longer. The provision of proper care is something which needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, whilst many care homes provide good care, there is still a minority where neglect and even abuse take place.

Whilst there have been high profile neglect cases in our media in recent months showing that individual care workers have been punished, there are growing calls for the companies who own care homes to face unlimited fines and criminal sanctions. It is felt that this level of penalisation will ultimately lead to improved standards of care across the board. Whilst the accountability of individual care workers is very important, those companies who benefit from the large fees they take should also be brought to account.

Liberal Democrat MP, Paul Burstow, former care services minister has called for these changes, he says; “it is about time those who take the fees, and employ and manage the staff in care homes are held to account for abuse and neglect that takes place on their watch. “

Government ministers have confirmed that these changes are to be considered, which comes on the back of current care minister, Norman Lamb’s call for “corporate accountability for the quality of care”.

If you are concerned about the care you or a loved one is receiving at a care home please call one of our friendly and experienced team for advice.

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17/01/2013 No Comments

How to spot the signs of care home neglect and abuse

Nurse pushing old man in wheelchair


With the advances in medical technology, people are living longer resulting in an aging population. Many of us will therefore at some point have dealings with care homes, whether receiving care ourselves or taking the difficult decision to place a much-loved relative in a home. Making the choice to use a care home often means that the individual is unable to look after themselves. Care home residents are often extremely vulnerable.

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03/01/2013 No Comments

Access all Ages

In my blog of 13th June 2012, “Age Old Excuses”, I highlighted that, as from this month, elderly patients will be able to sue those who provide services, including healthcare, if they are denied the service on the basis of their age alone.

I also commented that this can only be correct.

This view has now been reinforced by the Royal College of Surgeons and Age UK in their report “Access All Ages”.

From the outset it is important to recognise that there may well be valid reasons that an older person does not undergo surgery.  As we age, we inevitably become less fit and our bodies wear out making us less suitable candidates for surgery. 

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16/10/2012 No Comments

Looking after our aging population: why we need to raise awareness of care home neglect and its tell-tale signs

care home - loved one


The UK population is aging.  As a result most of us will at some point have dealings with care homes, whether receiving care ourselves or taking the difficult decision to place a much-loved relative in a home.  People are moved to care homes because they are unable to look after themselves.  Most care home residents require 24 hour care so belong to one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

However, in some cases residents do not receive the care that they deserve.  Luckily, through the campaigning of public figures such as Fiona Phillips, this is becoming more recognised.

Neil Hudgell Solicitors are increasingly being instructed to pursue claims against care homes, and themes are emerging.

It seems to be accepted that elderly people who are immobile will develop pressure ulcers.  This should not be the case.  With advances in technology and simple measures, such as regular repositioning, 95 % of pressure ulcers are avoidable.  Therefore, in the vast majority of cases, they are the result of negligent care.

The healing of these sores and other wounds can be delayed by malnutrition and dehydration, conditions which can also lead to other health problems.  One of the main complaints is that carers do not assist their patients to eat and drink.  For example, it is not uncommon to hear of carers placing meals out of reach of immobile patients.

This has also been a complaint when it comes to dispensing medication.  The tablets may be dispensed and placed in front of the patient, but no assistance is given to the patient to actually take the tablets.  Medication is not prescribed if it is not necessary, and if the patient is not given their medication over a period of time it can result in deteriorating health.  This can have devastating effects.

One of the most distressing things a relative can witness is to see the patient with bruises.  Bruising can be the result of poor moving and handling, or something more sinister.  As one of the more visual effects of poor or even abusive handling, bruising can be most difficult to bear for relatives.

Conversely, the least visual abuse can take the form of carers shouting and threatening their patients.  Often, this is only picked up because relatives notice that the patient has become frightened.  The concerns may not be acted on immediately, particularly if the patient has dementia or a similar illness as they may be judged as being delusional.

There are very many good care homes.  However, it must be recognised that often staff are poorly trained and supervised.  As a result bad practice can become common.  To improve care in the UK the profile of cases of neglect needs to be raised to force change to those practices.

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28/08/2012 No Comments

1,000 needless hospital deaths every month across the UK

Almost 1,000 patients are dying needlessly in hospitals every month due to errors in their care according to recent press reports. Research presented in the BMJ Quality and Safety Journal http://qualitysafety.bmj.com found that almost 12,000 deaths occurring every year could have been prevented.

Poor monitoring; misdiagnosis; medication errors and failure to replace fluids are all named as reasons for the unnecessary deaths.  

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16/07/2012 No Comments

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