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Panorama: Elderly Care Exposed

1st May 2014

Panorama: Elderly Care Exposed

By Steve Mckenzie

Last night’s Panorama programme ‘Behind Closed Doors: Elderly Care Exposed’ was truly shocking. It exposed the abuse and neglect in an old people’s home in Braintree in Essex run by Anglia and in homes in Croydon and West Sussex. This is the tip of the iceberg.

• We are told of elderly people left sitting in their own body waste for hours on end.
• We are shown physical and mental abuse.

This is only the latest and belated revelation of abuse in private care homes. The book ‘Beyond the Facade’ by ex carer Eileen Chubb, who was forced out of care and effectively blacklisted at the turn of the century, exposes the abuse of elderly residents in the private care sector. Her experiences also involved witnessing the denial of prescribed medication (painkillers) and the administration of non prescribed drugs (for the purpose of sedating).

In between these examples there have been numerous examples of abuse and neglect that have led to the deaths of residents in private care homes and the jailing of some of those found guilty of such abuse.

It is important that the shocking evidence in the Panorama programme should not be used to launch a witch hunt against the carers in residential homes. The undercover reporter at the Old Deanery in Braintree had just three days’ training. She reported chronic understaffing at the home. Staff are paid peanuts. This is an important and responsible job. It should be treated and rewarded as such.

The social care budget has been cut by a fifth since the coalition government came to power at a time of an increasing elderly population with increasing needs. This equates to £2.68 billion.

In response to the financial squeeze many local authorities have hived off their residential care homes and home care for the elderly to the private sector. Private profiteers then take their cut out of an already diminished budget,

Providing care based on profit means that, like any other ‘industry’, costs have to minimized and charges maximized to ensure a profit is made for those looking to make a fortune out of supposedly providing for people’s needs.

Only by re investing the necessary money to pay for a properly trained, properly paid and properly led workforce can these issues begin to be properly addressed.

• Social care should be provided directly by adequately funded democratically accountable public bodies working to legally enforceable standards.
• There must be minimum staffing levels that are appropriate to allow time for professional care to be administered effectively.
• Strict procedures for the administration of medication by the appropriately qualified staff must be laid down..

For the past two decades it would appear that the remit of the well healed placemen and women in the so called ‘care industry’ appear to have been turning a blind eye at best and covering up at worst to prevent the full scale of the horrors being exposed.
It is thanks to the sacrifice and campaigning of people like Eileen Chubb that the full consequences of care provided on the cheap by the profiteers is coming to light.

We should all be following her example and striving to put an end to this living hell for those no longer capable of defending themselves should be a priority for every decent person in this country.

Let us hope the Panorama programme lays the basis for a rethink of care provision for the elderly, providing for a service where care comes before profit.

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