Hitting old women

This photo shows a “careworker” slapping a confused old lady who suffers from Alzheimers.

It is from a BBC Panorama documentary about abuse in an old people’s care home called Ash Court. The daughter of this old lady found unexplained bruises on her mum’s arms and legs, she was suspicious of the care her mother was receiving, so she placed a hidden video camera inside an alarm clock.

Over the course of two days, a week apart, she recorded five care workers roughly handling her mother, ignoring her, speaking over her in Philipino. A male care worker was filmed hitting her face and head six times.

Following a police investigation the man was found guilty of assault and imprisoned and the other 4 careworkers dismissed.

The end.

No, really. It was an isolated incident, say the owners of Ash Court. There was an investigation and a report by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) who found “the risk to people’s safety had been dealt with by the immediate removal from the home of the staff concerned.” [CQC link].

That’s it, the end. If you believe that a few rotten apples were responsible.

If you know the problem is not the apples, but the rotten barrel and the barrel-makers who make the rotten barrels, then you knowthat nothing has really changed. The following has not changed.

  • The ability of an audit and inspection body to safeguard vulnerable people. Two years before the incident the CQC reported that the care home was excellent.
  • The system that values care so low it is cheaper to recruit from abroad.
  • The thick hide of top management. “abuse like this does not happen in front of management or our inspectors, so it is very difficult to detect,” complained the Deputy Director of Operations in London. Not so difficult that an unqualified member of the public was able to detect it though eh?
  • Tick-box inspections.On the first inspection, we saw evidence that the home has a quality assurance system that is thorough, robust and contains identifiable performance indicators and action trigger levels.” [p.18] The title of the CQC report into a care home that employed a violent thug? “Review of Compliance”.
  • Risk of similar incidents at other care homes. It is highly unlikely that the 5 members of staff all ended up by accident at one “excellent” care home. The system of low pay, low training, low prestige employment in the whole of the care home sector caused this. This manifests itself in abuse committed by staff. The staff are guilty, but without excusing them, this abuse was caused and is predictably generated by this system. If you want to change the behaviour of people in the system, change the system.

A bright spot though is this lovely piece about a care home that is different. You can’t inspect care into a care home, if you could then weighing a pig would make it fatter.

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