I can’t help it but I’m somewhat unimpressed and uninspired by claims that Castlebeck’s transformation is nearly complete (As reported by The Guardian). I’m sure Mr Sullivan has done a sterling job in dragging the remains of homes such as Winterbourne View towards acceptable standards but the very fact that such poor standards of care are evident in contemporary care is a shameful indictment on our society.
It riles me not only that such abuse took place in the first instance, but that it wasn’t picked up by the care provider. Would the abuse still be happening if it were down to Castlebeck to identify it and take action? I shudder to think that the answer might be a resounding “Yes”. Also to think what else may be happening within care homes across the UK where vulnerable adults don’t have the benefit of family involvement or carers with the insight to blow the whistle on abuse … or Panorama!
Having worked with numerous residential and nursing homes, it is not hard to see how totally dependant some vulnerable members of our society are on those paid to provide good quality care: Care that is monitored and regulated and where safeguarding policies are in place to ensure that those who can’t speak up for themselves are protected from abuse… Really?
I can’t help but recalling one particular home, the manager was sitting in a very well equipped, spacious office when I arrived congratulating herself at the marvel that were her new, glossy brochures. Showing prospective families just exactly how decent the home was with its ample garden blooming with flowers and general good cheer. Carers smiled on the front cover in a manner that exuded quality, person-centred care from more carers than one could possibly need whilst care-free residents tucked into their gormet meals.
Sadly, the reality was very different: Insufficiently trained carers that didn’t have the time to answer a call-bell that had been rung for the umpteenth time as the room’s occupant continued to lie in urine soaked sheets. Then there was the missed opportunity after missed opportunity to spot pressure wounds that were silently getting progressively worse – out of sight, out of mind. All the time, the owner continued to congratulate herself and confidently sell the homes’ services to prospective new residents and their families. Oblivious to the reality that was unravelling the other side of her plush office door.
Of course, such business’ need to be well run but when business comes before quality of care something needs to change. Whole cultures need to change because if the underlying ethos of a home’s manager is developing a thriving business, how can the ethos of carers within that home be anything different … such as caring perhaps. Whilst I’m all for serious case reviews and learning from past mistakes, I’m not convinced my ministers’ exclamations that, “We must learn from this so that these things must never happen again!” I fear that they will happen again … and again until the whole culture of care changes to one of … well, care.
I can recall perhaps just a handful of small care homes where the managers rota themselves on shift so they know what’s going on and can identify any training needs. Where more money is spent on care than on prtraying a good image to prospective new residents. They may not be glistening with a new coat of paint every 6 months or benefit from TV advertising but they are run with an underlying ethos of care and respect and reflect far more the brochures that are displayed elsewhere, but they don’t have their own glossy brochures. All they have is a good reputation which gets them by more than adequately.