Archive for October, 2012

The following afternoon I rang a service to speak to one of my NVQ candidates. Another of my candidates, Layla, answered. Layla was about to come off shift then take a resident into town in her own time – something that some carers did as there was not enough time on shift to do it. I hoped the manager was offering my candidate some time off in lieu, but from her response that didn’t sound very likely.

Debbie, the staff member I had rung for, was off sick with stress. I was told she had accidentally hurt a resident with her newly applied false nails – something many services have a policy about.

©suzancollins Beyond My Control 2012


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We ran up the stairs and into the ward. Mum had been moved into a side room and had been put on the ‘Liverpool Pathway’.  We introduced ourselves to the staff nurse at the desk and asked what the ‘Liverpool Pathway’ was. I assumed she would take us into a room and tell us, but she didn’t, she told us there at reception and matter of factly as though we were discussing the weather. ‘The correct term is the Liverpool Care Pathway and it enables the patient to die free of pain and with dignity and respect.’

I had only left the hospital yesterday afternoon and travelled the seven hour train journey to see Mum. ‘When was it decided that Mum should go into a side room?’ I whispered to my brother.

‘I was called in to see the doctor and as they discussed Mum’s care the ward sister said, ‘I have the room ready.’

‘That indicates they knew the stage Mum was at, why did they not tell me yesterday when I was here? I would’ve stayed or even why didn’t they tell Ann when she rang this morning?’ I asked.

My brother shrugged his shoulders.

‘What did they say in the meeting?’ I asked my brother.

The doctor explained that they could continue with the  treatment with no guarantee of Mum getting through it, or make Mum comfortable with no pain and put Mum on the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ and she could pass away with dignity and respect.  The second option was chosen.’

‘I agree,’ I told him and I hugged him. What a difficult decision to have to make.

We took it in turns to go for loo breaks or meal breaks. My brother was a night worker and he opted or even demanded that he do the nights and we do the days, although trying to get him to go and have a break during the day was a hard task. He had a camper van, so he was able to sleep in that in the car park. The evening staff were good to him, offering him cake and beverages. We rarely got offered anything on days, unless we caught the tea trolley when it was doing its rounds, which was rare, but sometimes we did. We individually said who liked strong, weak and medium tea and the tea was lovely.

I wanted to text people to tell them what was happening, but I had left my charger at home. I felt cut off from the outside world.

When the nurses came into the room to say they were going to wash and turn Mum, we realised we hadn’t had a meal break and decided that all four of us could go together whilst they washed Mum.

‘Mum, we’re off to get something to eat, see you later,’ my brother said, and in unison we said ‘see you later Mum.’

It was nice for the four of us, sister, brother, niece and myself to be together so we could chat about things that we couldn’t talk about in front of Mum.

When we got back, Mum was laid on her back and was screaming in pain. It was a high pitched desperate scream that went right through me. Mum was screaming ‘Do something! Do something!’

Fighting back the tears we asked, ‘What do you want us to do Mum?’

‘Anything, just do it p-l-e-a-s-e!’ she begged.

We called for some help and the nurses turned Mum onto her side. The two nurses who had washed and turned Mum had put her on her back and the catheter was pressing into her grade 4 pressure sore. They must have dislodged the pipe that was blowing air into her mattress so later that evening the mattress was flat and she was squashed up!

I later mentioned this to a staff nurse who said that it ‘was probably the cleaners unplugging it and not putting the plug back in, they do that occasionally.’ I told her that the cleaners that morning had not unplugged anything as we were in the room when the cleaner was there. There was no apology or compassion from this staff nurse.

Later that evening my sister and I visited various B & Bs until we found one with two vacancies. It was decorated 1970s, colourful and pretty. We said we wanted to stay a few nights but Mum was at the hospital and we may want more nights. The owner read our faces and seemed to know what was happening. ‘Pay me for the few nights and we can discuss more nights if you need them.’ We appreciated her kindness during this difficult time, and thanked her.

©suzan collins Beyond My Control 2012

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BBC to claim that ex-patients have been assaulted in services after moving out of Winterbourne View.

Thursday 25 October 2012 11:33

A follow-up to the shocking Panorama report on abuse of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View will allege that former residents have faced further assaults in other homes.

The second Panorama report will be aired on Monday 29 October on BBC1 from 8.30-9pm.

With Winterbourne View now closed, and 11 of its former staff having been convicted of assault, the programme will tell the stories of some of the patients who suffered, using undercover footage never seen before. It also examines allegations that a number of former residents have faced further assaults or unnecessary restraints in other homes.


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ITV 10.35PM Wednesday 24th October

I will be watching ‘Who Cares’ this evening with interest. I think a lot of questions need to be answered, not only is enough being done to regulate the care homes but also why managers and staff let the standards of some care homes get so low. Some resulting in the residents being moved out.

There are some brilliant care staff working in elderly services and healthcare assistants [previously known as nursing auxiliaries] and nurses and doctors working in hospitals and in the community but unfortunately some have failed the elderly.

In my new book [Beyond My Control, how the health and social care system treated and sometimes failed the elderly, including my late mother], Chapter 30 looks at who is to blame and lists many, including some owners of care homes and agencies, directors, managers of services, ward sisters and charge nurses, staff and GPs, nurses etc.! It also includes some of the many reasons why I think the elderly are failed and here are a few examples-

  • No  care plans for staff to follow or they’re in place but have not been  updated
  • Lack  of  GOOD training
  • Lack of supervision and support
  • Ward  sisters/charge nurses/managers of homes not observing what the staff do
  • Poor  practice which is not challenged
  • Shortage of staff so they cut corners
  • Staff sickness, other carers have to cover their shifts
  • Low pay work long hours=very tired
  • Poor communication between staff
  • Wrong people in the wrong job
  • No policies in place on care or abuse for staff to follow, inc what to do if you have concerns
  • ‘I  won’t bother reporting it, I’ll leave it to someone else to do it,’  attitude
  • Fear  of reporting it and losing their job.

A care home and a care agency providing care and support to the elderly have received the highest possible rating by the Care Quality Commission.

I was delighted to read two articles recently on a care home and a care agency meeting the essential standards on quality and safety and receiving the highest possible rating by the Care Quality Commission.

The essential standards on quality and safety consist of five areas-

Involvement and information

Personalised care

Treatment and support

Safeguarding and safety

Suitability and staffing

Quality and management.

These two services are:

North Lincolnshire Council’s Community Support Team

Click here for more information http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/local/council-team-s-high-rating-1-5050477


Mill House Care Home.

Click on the link for more information

Photograph taken from http://www.cotswoldjournal.co.uk/news/9993167.Care_home_celebrates/

Unfortunately this good news is outweighed by the bad news…care homes not meeting the essential quality and safety standards and …some elderly care homes have been closed which means that elderly people, some very elderly people have had to move out of the home and into another one. No doubt they will be split up, friendships and relationships lost if the staff do not help them to keep in touch with one another.

‘Elderly moved from Darwen care home

ELDERLY residents have been removed from a care home by Blackburn with Darwen Council because it had no hot water, or heating, for three weeks.

Families yesterday helped to transfer their loved ones from Highfield House, in Darwen, to alternative accommodation after the management was deemed ‘unable to resolve’ issues at the Sudell Road home.

Residents, aged between 74 and 101, also had their food budget slashed, and were not allowed desserts.

“The conditions were absolutely awful.”

Darwen mayor, Coun Eileen Entwistle said: “It is disgraceful.

“I understand the food had been reduced, as well as there being no hot water, or heating.

“It is wrong because older people need keeping warm, and certainly need nourishment.

“If they have settled in a place and they are used to the staff, who I believe are wonderful, it is a big wrench.”’


STOP! What you are doing now and think about this…you are sat at home and someone comes and tells you you are moving tomorrow. Think about it! What thoughts are going through your head? Whatever the thoughts they will be similar to those of the elderly people who have to move out of their home. And two of the biggest things for them will be:

1. Change. Some very elderly people do not like change or cannot accept change.

2. Loss! And Loss is like bereavement. I hope the people get the support they deserve to see them through this period of loss.

All professionals in the health and care sector have a duty of care.

‘duty of care n. a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would. If a person’s actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent, and any damages resulting may be claimed in a lawsuit for negligence.’


Safeguarding alerts relating to people over the age of 65 (1st Jan 2012 – 1st June 2012)

Data received from the Care Quality Commission

Number of safeguarding alerts                                                 12,018

Number of victims                                                                         12,983

Appalling stats!

‘Safeguarding means making sure you* are safe from abuse and neglect, and are able to be independent and make choices. ‘


*Vulnerable people i.e. people receiving care and support. The link is for the NHS and an easy read for people with learning disabilities. Vulnerable people include anyone receiving a service, for example, older people, people with mental health needs, people with a physical disability etc.

I will finish this now and add more another time. I will leave you with this question and I hope you will write an answer in the comments section.

Q: What do you think should happen to those who fail elderly people receiving care including those who knew what was happening and failed to report it?

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Helen Sanderson answers this question on youtube…


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A group of care workers secretly filmed abusing disabled patients at a private hospital near Bristol are this week being sentenced in court.

Eleven members of staff who worked at Winterbourne View in Hambrook appeared at Bristol Crown Court on both Monday and Tuesday. Between them they have admitted 38 charges of either neglect or ill-treatment of people with severe learning difficulties.

Abuse at Winterbourne View private hospital was exposed last year by a BBC Panorama programme

Their actions were exposed by a BBC Panorama investigation in 2011.

The sentencing hearing, which got under way on Monday afternoon, could last up to five days, Judge Neil Ford QC, the Recorder of Bristol, said.

But how did the abuse come to light, and what action has been taken since it was exposed?


May 31: BBC1’s Panorama airs “Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed” at 9pm. On its website Panorama describes the programme: “On the top floor of a special hospital, locked away from their families and friends, a group of men and women are subjected to a regime of physical assaults, systematic brutality, and torture by the very people supposed to be caring for them.

“The victims are some of the most vulnerable in society – the learning disabled, the autistic, and the suicidal. In a Panorama Special, Paul Kenyon exposes the truth about a gang of carers out of control, and how the care system ignored all the warning signs”.

In a statement to Panorama the hospital’s owners, Castlebeck, apologise, and suspend 13 employees.

“We are deeply distressed by the completely unacceptable and appalling behaviour of a small number of our employees at one of our facilities,” says Castlebeck. “Such behaviour will not be tolerated, and we are truly sorry”.

Panorama reporter Joe Casey, who spent five weeks filming undercover at the private hospital, says he is haunted by the abuse of the patients.

June 1: Avon and Somerset police arrest four people in relation to the abuse. All are released on police bail.

Meanwhile the abuse filmed by the BBC is condemned as “shocking” by the Government.

A number of organisations share their thoughts following the airing of the footage.

NHS South West says it is “appalled” by the issues raised surrounding the care home.

In a statement the Care Quality Commission says that, following an internal review, it recognised “there were indications of problems at this hospital which should have led to us taking action sooner”.

“We apologise to those who have been let down by our failure to act more swiftly to address the appalling treatment that people at this hospital were subjected to,” it says.

June 5: The Government vows vulnerable adults in care in England will be given more protection from abuse.

June 7: A former charge nurse at Winterbourne View hospital alleges senior hospital managers and the industry regulator ignored his complaints.

Speaking to BBC’s Politics Show, Terry Bryan says he earlier reported incidents to managers and the Care Quality Commission but nothing was done.

Five more people are arrested. They too are released on police bail pending more inquiries.

Meanwhile in an interview with the Guardian Dame Jo Williams, chair of the Care Quality commission, pledges a rethink of residential care for people with learning difficulties following the exposé.

Paul Burstow MP, the Minister for Care Services, answers questions in the House of Commons about the treatment of people with learning disabilities and autism highlighted by the Panorama programme.

June 8: Council staff may have been told five times in two months about fears of abuse at Winterbourne View hospital, the BBC reports.

June 9: Two more people are arrested.

June 10: A serious case review into the alleged abuse at Winterbourne View is set for July.

South Gloucestershire Council says it will examine “the effectiveness of the safeguarding system and processes” at the hospital.

June 15: The CQC did not inspect independent learning disability hospitals, such as Winterbourne View, for four months in the winter of 2010, it emerges.

Figures obtained by Community Care show no inspections of this type of provision were conducted between October 1, 2010 and January 31, 2011.

June 21: Health Minister Paul Burstow tells MPs 10 separate investigations are under way into the Winterbourne View abuse scandal.

June 24: Winterbourne View closes.

June 29: Workers in the residential care home sector sign a petition of no confidence in the industry regulator, the CQC.

Delegates at the National Care Homes Congress say they “have no confidence that the CQC is capable of delivering an effective system of regulation for health and social care”, BBC News reports.

July 14: Castlebeck workers are suspended following allegations of misconduct at Arden Vale.

July 18: The Care Quality Commission (CQC)publishes its findings after an inspection of Winterbourne View.

The CQC finds owners Castlebeck Care had failed to ensure residents living at the unit were adequately protected from risk, including the risks of unsafe practices by its own staff.

It says: “There was a systemic failure to protect people or to investigate allegations of abuse.”

Police say they have arrested a 12th person in connection with the inquiry.

July 28: In response to a Freedom of Information request South Gloucestershire Council says 19 concerns about Winterbourne View were raised in five years.

A spokesman tells the BBC 15 of the alerts concerned the behaviour of members of staff.

Meanwhile the Care Quality Commission says there are “serious concerns” about care at four Castlebeck-run services for people with learning difficulties.

July 29: Hundreds of people with learning disabilities and mental-health problems have been subjected to inhumane and substandard care in hospitals and care homes owned by Castlebeck, the Independent reports.

August 17: Arden Vale, in Meriden, near Coventry, becomes the third care home run by Castlebeck set to close. It follows Winterbourne View and Rose Villa, also in Bristol.

September 14: Prime Minister David Cameron adds his voice to calls for the CQC to get back to its core function of inspecting hospitals and care homes.

November 28: Ten people are charged in connection with the ill treatment and neglect of patients at Winterbourne View.

The 10 people face a total of 40 charges against four patients under the Mental Capacity Act, it emerges.

December 13: The Department of Health orders a probe into the Care Quality Commission following criticisms of its leadership from board member Kay Sheldon. Sheldon called for CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower to resign.

December 15: Ten people charged with neglecting and mistreating patients at a private hospital in Hambrook appear in court for the first time. No pleas are entered and all 10 are granted bail. They will appear at Bristol Crown Court on February 9.


January 11: The CQC publishes 10 reports from a targeted programme of 150 unannounced inspections of hospitals and care homes that care for people with learning disabilities. The first five reports were published in December.

The programme looks at whether people experience safe and appropriate care, treatment and support and whether they are protected from abuse.

No major concerns are found at any of the locations and two locations have moderate concerns with both outcomes.

In relation to the care and welfare of people who use services, four locations are compliant, one has minor concerns and five have moderate concerns. In relation to safeguarding, eight locations are compliant and two have moderate concerns.

February 10: Three members of staff admit mistreating patients at Winterbourne View.

February 23: The Department of Health publishes the report of its Performance and Capability Review of the CQC.

The CQC announces the resignation of its Chief Executive, Cynthia Bower.

March 16: Four more people plead guilty to ill-treating residents.

April 23: It emerges the Winterbourne View site has been bought by Glenside Care Group, which plans to provide treatment and rehabilitation for individuals with complex neurological conditions including brain injury.

June 25: The CQC publishes the report of their inspection of 150 learning disability services announced in response to the abuse. Meanwhile the Department of Health publishes an interim report containing new proposals to improve the quality and safety of services for people with learning disabilities.

July 24: Two managers at South Gloucestershire Council are dismissed as a result of events at Winterbourne View. Both managers were responsible for safeguarding vulnerable adults, the BBC reports.

August 6: The last of the 11 defendants pleads guilty.

Michael Onyema Ezenagu, 28, of White City, London, was due on trial at Bristol Crown Court, but admitted two charges of ill-treating a patient.

August 7: Fundamental changes are needed in how care of vulnerable adults is commissioned and monitored, a serious case review into events at Winterbourne View says.

The report’s author Margaret Flynn says the abuse was a scandal.

South Gloucestershire Council says it “fully accepted” the findings.

Meanwhile campaigners warn the Winterbourne View scandal could happen again unless action is taken by the government.

The chair of the CQC, Dame Jo Williams, announces she will resign from the post.

August 10: The sentencing of 11 care workers who pleaded guilty to maltreating five patients at Winterbourne View will begin on October 22, it is announced.

October 22: The defendants appear at Bristol Crown Court as the sentencing hearing gets under way.

Meanwhile the family of a man who was punched in the face as a patient at Winterbourne View calls for the incident to be re-investigated.


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Exercising in your 70s may stop your brain from shrinking and showing the signs of ageing linked to dementia, say experts from Edinburgh University.

Brain scans of 638 people past the age of retirement showed those who were most physically active had less brain shrinkage over a three-year period.

Exercise did not have to be strenuous – going for a walk several times a week sufficed, the journal Neurology says.

But giving the mind a workout by doing a tricky crossword had little impact.

The study found no real brain-size benefit from mentally challenging activities, such as reading a book, or other pastimes such as socialising with friends and family.

“Start Quote

More research is also needed to tease out how physical activity might be having a beneficial effect”

When the researchers examined the brain’s white matter – the wiring that transmits messages round the brain – they found that the people over the age of 70 who were more physically active had fewer damaged areas than those who did little exercise.

And they had more grey matter – the parts of the brain where the messages originate.

Experts already know that our brains tend to shrink as we age and that this shrinkage is linked to poorer memory and thinking.

And previous studies have shown that exercise helps reduce the risk of dementia and can slow down its onset.

But scientists are still baffled about why this is.

‘Never too late’

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, delivering oxygen and nutrients to brain cells, which may be important.

Or it may be that as people’s brains shrink, they become less inclined to exercise.

Regardless of why, experts say the findings are good news because exercise is an easy thing to do to boost health.

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This study links physical exercise to fewer signs of ageing in the brain, suggesting that it may be a way of protecting our cognitive health.

“While we can’t say that exercise is the causal factor in this study, we do know that exercise in middle age can lower the risk of dementia later in life.

“It will be important to follow these volunteers to see whether these structural features are associated with greater cognitive decline over the coming years. More research is also needed to tease out how physical activity might be having a beneficial effect.”

Prof James Goodwin, head of research at Age UK, the charity that provided the funding for the research, said: “This research re-emphasises that it really is never too late to benefit from exercise, so whether it’s a brisk walk to the shops, gardening or competing in a fun run it is crucial that, those of us who can, get active as we grow older.”


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‘Live Wires is our telephone-based club allowing older people to get together over the phone to discuss books, films or just have a general chat.

Live Wires is a completely free service that:
•Gives older people the chance to discuss books, films and more over the telephone in their own homes
•Allows participants to talk and share their views with others
•Lets participants have conversations in confidence within the group

  • Joining an Independent Age Live Wires club involves reading a book, watching a film, listening to a radio play or taking part in a discussion group. Every six or seven weeks the entire group (about six people) will have a discussion over the telephone. We provide DVDs and or books in advance and pay the postage cost so there is no cost to those taking part. Most of the books will also be available in large print and audio versions.

    Live Wires only requires that participants have access to a landline or mobile phone and are available to join in at the times agreed in advance. At the agreed time those participating are phoned and linked in with the rest of their group, so there is no cost for the call.
    If you would like to join a Live Wires group, please call Rosalind Devine on 020 7605 4232 or click on the link below


Note to readers-I have not worked with/for this company and therefore cannot comment on it but I am posting it here because I like what I have read and it will help older people, in various situations, not to be alone and be able to discuss books etc in a group setting; albeit on the phone. When contacting Live Wires please do feel free to ask questions if you have any. And if you would like to leave a comment here afterwards to let others know that will be great.

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Extract from the book I have just finished writing,  ‘Beyond My Control, how the health and social care system treated and sometimes failed the elderly, inclduing my late mother’.

I assessed the staff member follow the medication procedure and she knocked on the bedroom door of Beryl [the resident] and asked if I could observe and explained why. Beryl said I could and I was invited in. I walked quietly and slowly into the room. I felt I was intruding but Beryl had understood what would be happening and had agreed to my being there. Beryl was in bed and looked very frail. A lump jumped into my throat as I assumed she was very ill and would end her life soon. Then tears welled up in my eyes as I observed my candidate administer the medication gently and caringly and spoke to the lady in one of the most caring ways I had ever heard. Beryl looked straight into the candidate’s eyes and they both smiled to each other. Beryl thanked my candidate and she stroked Beryl’s arm.

I thanked Beryl and I left the room and composed myself in the hall. I followed the staff member downstairs; she seemed on a mission as she was walking quite fast. Having said that all carers tended to walk fast in the large elderly services, they had so much to do.

‘There is a bird nesting in the drain pipe outside a resident’s window and I have been taking photographs with my mobile phone. We shouldn’t have our phones on but mine is always on silent,’ she told me.

‘What have you done with the photos?’ I asked.

‘I’ve been showing Derek one of our residents. He’s bed bound, loves birds but cannot turn his head to see the window and the bird.’

‘Okay,’ I replied, waiting for her to tell me more.

‘But I’ve had an idea. I’m going to ask him if I can put a mirror on his chest of drawers and position it so he can see the reflection of the bird. He can then see live what is happening.’

‘Lovely idea’ I told her and wondered why all care staff could not be this thoughtful.

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‘Chemical cosh’ drugs are being given to about 50 per cent more people with dementia than an official estimate had suggested, according to a new study.

The study also found those living in institutions were more than three times more likely to be on anti-psychotics than those living at home.

The research indicates national efforts to reduce inappropriate prescribing of anti-psychotic drugs, are not working as well as believed.

The drugs can be useful for reducing hallucinations in those with the degenerative brain disease, but too often they are used to sedate care home residents and make them easier to handle.

Two years ago ministers pledged to cut the numbers of dementia sufferers inappropriately given them by two-thirds, from an estimate of about 140,000. That figure represented about 41 per cent of the 344,000 diagnosed with dementia in Britain.

At that stage the drugs were thought to be leading to the early deaths of about 1,800 people a year.

Results of a national audit, released this summer, suggested that target had been surpassed.

It estimated the proportion of those diagnosed with dementia who were on the drugs dropped to 10.5 per cent in 2011, or about 36,000 people.

However, the new study, which looked at prescriptions in the Medway area, concluded the rate was more like 15.3 per cent, or 52,500.

Dr Chris Fox, a senior lecturer in psychiatry at the University of East Anglia, claimed: “The national audit was a bit of a mirage because they only managed to look at about 49 per of GPs and they only examined new diagnoses.”

He said their study was “more robust” because it captured almost all GP surgeries (98 per cent) -albeit in a small area – and included all patients with dementia, not just those newly diagnosed.

The study, carried out throughout 2011, also found those living in institutions were more than three times more likely to be on anti-psychotics than those living at home.

Dr Fox said he and fellow academics had shown that it was possible to reduce or withdraw the drugs from more than 60 per cent of patients, following a review by a pharmacist.


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