The Care Quality Commission has just produced its first series of reports on ‘Care Homes’ both council- and privately-owned, after the upheaval of senior management. These are the places where we send our ‘loved ones’ when they become ill; or disabled, mentally or physically, or perhaps, to use a more truthful terminology, to place them ‘out of sight and mind’.
Sometimes, it is true, our old relatives have succumbed to mental illlnesses: alzheimers’, dementia, or that modern curse. so far untreatable and only partially-diagnosed; schizophrenia. A dearly-loved mother, an elderly aunt of mine, stayed in a care home for the last few months of her life because she was becoming violent and unmanageable in a domestic environment; and I watched as the mental deterioration took its toll upon the capacities of a once-razor-sharp intellect; to the extent that she did not even recognise me when visiting.
As a nation, we have become steadily divorced from the old principles of decency, of family ties, of patriarchal or matriarchal duty; and have replaced those invisible ties with financial ones: can we afford this centre, or can we move the old dear into this ‘care home’ with the least inconvenience to the wider family?
To quote from a recent CQC report on an outfit which called itself the ‘Whitstable Nursing Home’, although a less-likely ‘home’ environment was found in the words:-
A trolley with people’s drinks on was chipped and had dirty marks over it. Some stands for catheter bags were chipped exposing bare metal that had rusted making it very difficult to keep clean. The radiator in the front hallway had brown splash marks over it. The carpets were dirty throughout the home. Staff said it was up to the night staff to vacuum the night before but it ‘depends who is on’. The carpets appeared not to have not been vacuumed.
People were given cream coloured plastic cups to drink from and some were not clean. One person showed us their brown stained cup and said “It’s rubbish, look at that. You would think they would try to clean them or throw them away. It’s a bit grotty isn’t it?”
The bins in some of the toilets were full. The bin in the staff toilet was full and had no lid to prevent cross infection. The bins outside were not secured and could be accessed by anyone. The sharps bin was not locked and was a quarter full with incontinence pads. The clinical bin was half full with incontinence pads and was not locked. The lid did not fit properly and it smelled strongly of urine. Of three waste bins two had closed lids and one was so full it was overflowing and the lid could not be shut.
I would simply ask ATW readers to study any of the similar reports identified in the Daily Telegraph page on the CQC statements, one of the first done from a realistic and honest point of view; or download the spreadsheet from the CQC website, and then ask yourselves if this state of affairs has come about in the past three months, or has it been allowed to continue through superficial and peremptory ‘Inspections’ by a series of groups who couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, never mind inspect a whole industry?
And just before anyone out there accuses me of writing of that which I know nothing about, I would simply point to this in my own defence.