BBC investigation underlines need for improved care home inspections

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BBC investigation underlines need for improved care home inspections

25th April 2012

An expert in human rights law has said the BBC’s Panorama programme – which obtained damning hidden footage from a North London care home – has emphasised the importance of monitoring UK care home standards.

Mark McGhee, an expert in cases involving Mental Health and Human Rights legislation at Fentons Solicitors LLP,was speaking after the daughter of a resident with Alzheimers used a hidden camera to secretly record harrowing footage of her mother being physically abused in her room by her carers.

“Any abuse of the elderly in a care home setting by the very people charged with their care is obviously deplorable, but the repeated physical assault of an 80-year old woman with dementia is both shocking and unforgivable,” said Mark, a partner at the firm.

“The North London care home involved had previously been passed as ‘excellent’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the national body responsible for regulating care homes for the elderly,” added Mark. “Whilst the rating this home received was perhaps indicative of the care provided to some residents, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the appalling footage recorded there has revealed an unacceptable failing in standards and, perhaps more importantly, their monitoring.”

The five main care home workers who were caught on film abusing the woman, by a secret camera hidden in an alarm clock, have all been sacked and the man responsible for the worst of the abuse has just been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

“There are almost half a million elderly people living in residential and nursing homes in the UK today, and the CQC needs to do more to respect and uphold their rights and protect them from the risk of abuse,” said Mark. “There needs to be an increase in the frequency of inspections, which themselves need to thoroughly scrutinise for signs of both good and bad care, and there also needs to be a move away from an over-reliance on self-assessment. In addition, the CQC needs to be seen as more approachable and as a body that will listen and, more importantly, act upon individual complaints and concerns in regard to poor standards of care.

“It is completely unacceptable that we have an under-funded care system in which those most vulnerable in society are put at risk of abuse because the care homes their families have paid for their loved ones to be housed in are not being inspected with the frequency and robustness needed,” said Mark.

“The CQC is not working as effectively as it should be and much more needs to be done to actively improve standards so that older people living in nursing and residential homes are provided with the skilled care and respect they need to ensure their dignity and general wellbeing are preserved.”

How can Fentons help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in helping victims of abuse.
If you would like to talk to one of our experts in confidence then please contact us on 0161 684 6643 or 0161 238 6440.

Read more: BBC