Sadly, through working on a campaign like Care in Crisis at Age UK, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of older people experiencing poor levels of care at a time when they are most vulnerable. But even I was shocked at what BBC’s Panorama uncovered in their programme on care homes, Behind Closed Doors, this week.
Neglect, bullying and taunting, being ignored, rough treatment and even outright assault: this is what was found during secret filming in more than one care home. It left me feeling upset, distressed and angry. How is it that this sort of thing can still take place in 21st-century Britain?
Winterbourne View,Operation Jasmine, the EHRC’s Close to Home report and the harrowing story of Gloria Foster are all recent examples, and there are many more, of how the human rights of those receiving care have been breached. One would assume that protecting someone from abuse, neglect or undignified treatment would be the first priority of those providing care, however, in some cases it is clear that it is not so.
In this context it is vital that the law acts to protect who are vulnerable to human rights abuses. The Human Rights Act 1998 states that ‘It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right.’ Simply put, this means that public bodies have a duty to respect and protect people’s human rights to fairness, respect, equality, dignity and autonomy. Where they fail in this regard they can be challenged in the courts.
Age UK has long been concerned that not all older people receiving care benefit from this vital source of protection. Certain groups of older people including those who receive home care services provided by private and third sector organisations under a contract to the local authority and those who arrange and pay for their own care are currently not directly protected under the Human Rights Act. Continue reading “Care Bill: How the Human Rights Act can provide a safety net”
The first inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust catalogued extensive examples of neglectful care and appalling patient experiences. Stories of people being ignored, dehydrated, abused were visible signs of an organisation that had forgotten basic principles of care and at worst, wilfully put organisational considerations ahead of patients. Many, if not most, of the patients involved were older people.
The second inquiry reported in February and included 290 recommendations
that could help to avoid the same situation arising again, not just in Staffordshire, but throughout the NHS. You can see what we said about it in our blog.
The government yesterday gave its response to the report in a paper titled Patients first and foremost, and there’s much to be positive about in what it says.
What happened in the Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust was a truly sickening and extreme example of when training, professionalism, management, and structures all individually and collectively failed very vulnerable frail patients.
Few in the health sector could claim that Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust was an isolated case. Most of us have heard accounts of similar failures in care in our local hospitals or care homes, some relating to individual wards, others more widespread.
Today is a watershed moment for the NHS: 31 months after the Francis report was commissioned the final report was published on the 6th February. The report makes 290 recommendations on how to improve the system and we must once and for all take this opportunity to make the deep and lasting changes that are required. A ‘sticking plaster solution’ is not going to be acceptable and will certainly not be enough to reassure millions of older people and their families. Continue reading “Mid Staffordshire Inquiry Announcement”
The first of February marked Dignity Action Day, an annual opportunity for health and social care professionals and members of the public to raise awareness of people’s rights to dignity. There are over 40,000 Dignity Champions across the country who believe care services should be compassionate and person-centred. The Champions pledge to challenge poor care and act as good role models. Dignity Action Day, organised by the Dignity in Care Network, is a time where local communities can come together to hold events and activities that promote and celebrate dignity.
Many organisations around the country marked Dignity in Action day. Just one example is Islington Age UK. Andy Murphy CEO of Age UK Islington was one of the judges for Islington Council’s Care Worker Award. The Care Worker Award recognises and showcases the work of formal care staff and contractors who provide a dignified service to residents. 18 finalists were nominated by Care Managers from across Islington with the winner announced on Dignity Action Day. Continue reading “Dignity in Action Day 2013”
There has been a great deal of press interest recently in the Liverpool Care Pathway for the dying patient (LCP). It has been described in more colourful language, which I will return to later, but I should start out by explaining what it is – and just as importantly what it isn’t.
The LCP was developed in the late 1990s by a hospital in Liverpool and a local Marie Curie hospice. The aim was to bring high-quality hospice care for cancer patients to hospital settings. Later, this was expanded to non-cancer patients and has been adopted by a large number of hospitals throughout the NHS and other countries.
Why was (and is) this necessary? Modern hospice care emerged in the 1960s out of a desire to improve the experience of dying for terminally-ill patients. Hospitals are traditionally very good at delivering curative care, but do less well at caring for people whose greatest need is to be as pain-free and as comfortable as possible, and to have the reassurance that their families are supported to prepare and come to terms with a loved-one passing away.
The reality today is that the majority of people are in hospital when they die. Though the circumstances may vary – for example they may have been recently admitted as an emergency, or they were being treated for an illness that they may not recover from – past reports have shown that poor experiences can be very similar.