/ Health

Why is good care so difficult to find?

Moving someone into a care home can be a difficult decision. That difficulty is only compounded when faced with the struggle of finding good care that suits that person’s needs. Fred Horley joins us to share his difficulties with finding good care for his wife, Joan.

In October 2015, my wife Joan, aged 83, was placed into a care home by a hospital for respite care. This was following treatment for a fractured right leg. Sadly, Joan’s experience in that care home was far from satisfactory.

Care home failings

My wife had specific requirements of no load bearing on the fractured limb. She had a commode in her room and needed assistance with getting out of bed to use it.

Often she was left waiting for more than 30 minutes after activating an emergency alarm before help eventually came for her. On a number of occasions, one at 1.15am, Joan used her mobile phone to call me at home to ask me to ring the home and ask them to respond to her emergency activation of the alarm.

On another occasion after waiting three-quarters of an hour after activating the emergency call button she tried to get out of bed and fell, banging her head on the stone floor. She lay on the floor, in the dark, for about an hour shouting for help and banging on the floor. It was later discovered that the emergency alarm system was not working.

My wife was often woken at around 8am but wasn’t served a hot drink or breakfast until 9.45am. And in the 15 days she was in the home she was assisted with showering only once.

At no point was Joan’s care plan ever discussed with her and she was never given the opportunity to participate in any form of activities.

We decided to remove her from the home as soon as possible and reported Joan’s experience to the relevant authorities. But we felt helpless and concerned for the other residents at the home.

A caring home

The authorities carried out a risk assessment of our home in turning our downstairs dining room into a bedroom. They provided all the necessary equipment for Joan to be cared for at home by carers and family.

With Joan now comfortable at home I was able to look into who was responsible for overseeing care homes provision and discovered the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

I found that in November 2014 the CQC carried out an inspection of the care home and concluded that it required improvement in three out of the five assessment criteria. The overall grading it was given was ‘Requires Improvement’.

The CQC had carried out further inspections and eventually put the home into ‘special measures’. And at its last inspection, in April 2017, the home still required improvement in two out of the five inspection criteria.

In the nearly two years since Joan was at that home it still ‘requires improvement’ and despite this, it’s still able to take on new residents.

Care needs care now

Many elderly patients don’t have friends or relatives who are able to make enquiries or complaints on their behalf. It shouldn’t be a struggle to find good care.

From my own extensive research and Joan’s experience I’m well placed to determine the best home for my own care should I need it.

For me, it will be one that meets the five CQC care criteria and is rated as good or outstanding. But homes in Plymouth that would meet these criteria are difficult to come by, expensive and have few vacancies.

That’s why I’m standing with Which? as they launch their campaign to confront the problems in the care home system.

Join me. Sign Which?’s petition to put care into the care system today.

This is a guest contribution by Fred Horley. All views expressed here are Fred’s own and not necessarily also shared by Which?

Have you had a similar experience to Fred and Joan? Do you worry about finding good care?


I complained about a member of staff being very rude and aggressive to me, after twice finding my friend neglected, and had no response from the care home. The next day at 9pm at night the police visited me to tell me I am now banned from seeing my friend, whom I have known for 30 years. I am his only regular visitor, In my opinion this Man is being denied his human rights, and I believe he is being mentally abused.


The power of the social work department T , WHO ?? is the LEGAL guardian of your friend ?


Why has my reply been removed Which ? Okay somebody doesn’t like me posting on this issue but I will do it again and again till its posted . Question T WHO is the official GUARDIAN of your friend — the Social Work Department has approved the ban your right— god knows how long he will live now !! I hope Which is not trying to cover up private Care home abuse by blocking posts ??


I doubt it. And I’m curious: as far as I know the Police can’t ‘ban’ anyone from visiting a friend, and they certainly wouldn’t call round to tell you unless they had extremely good cause.


Ian In conjunction with the Social Work Dept the care home can ban people from visiting AND even if you have standard power of attorney they can overrule that unless you have FULL legal power of Attorney. There already has been a post by a lady on a previous convo who found that out the hard way. Social Work Depts. have great legal power in social care . She got the original POA via her doctor but that is not complete POA . In England its called LPOA – LASTING power of attorney and governs care home attention as well if you only have the standard version the SWD can overrule you.


I believe there are only two PsOA:

Ordinary Power of Attorney (OPA)

This covers decisions about your financial affairs and is valid while you have mental capacity. It is suitable if you need cover for a temporary period (hospital stay or holiday) or if you find it hard to get out, or you want someone to act for you.


Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

An LPA covers decisions about your financial affairs, or your health and care. It comes into effect if you lose mental capacity, or if you no longer want to make decisions for yourself. You would set up an LPA if you want to make sure you’re covered in the future.

However,there are two types of LPA:

– an LPA for financial decisions
– and an LPA for health and care decisions

That last – the LPA for health and care decisions – covers health and care decisions and can only be used once you have lost mental capacity. An attorney can generally make decisions about things such as:

where you should live
your medical care
what you should eat
who you should have contact with
what kind of social activities you should take part in.

You can also give special permission for your attorney to make decisions about life-saving treatment.

The crucial aspect is that this has to be done while you’re still cognisant. But it’s simple enough to do and, once done, the holder can permit visitors almost at their discretion, unless they threat the safety of the resident.

So I’d argue that very close relatives need to think ahead for what might be.

Under the CQC’s “Information on visiting rights in care homes” care homes are not allowed to ban visitors without good cause. The causes listed are where the visitor or visitors may pose “a risk to a resident’s safety”. It’s how that is defined that may well be an issue.

Visitors who scream and shout, for example, could well be considered as frightening and thus a danger to the health of elderly residents.

This is far from easy as a topic, and it seems very clear that it’s certainly not all one sided.


This was taken from an actual legal case where the complainant posted on Which what the care home had done to stop here keeping an eye on her mother . She found that the first POA taken out in conjunction with her GP was NOT powerful enough for her to be overruled by her local Social Work Dept. who believed the care home owners and blocked her from attending her OWN relatives well being she went to the trouble of going through all the legal circles but lost because THEY ! the Social Work Dept. + the care home had LPOA . care complaints fell on deaf ears , her mother died faster than she would of because of that lack of care . Obviously the two parties opposing her thought that was a “result ” . If you think I will ever accept any of this type of legal chicanery in human life well you dont know me John ! The pro business care home Lobby can put as many “thumbs down ” as they want I stand toe to toe – arm to arm with ALL the British public suffering under this for profit “care ” home business .


As explained above, Duncan, not having the right LPA can be an issue, but it’s easy to do, providing people think about things in advance. The case you mention might never have happened had the complainant thought about things in advance and prepared.

And you’re making an allegation there that can open you and Which to legal action, and which I doubt you can defend.


If I changed it to legal “deviousness ” would it make any difference John ? They did get a result they beat the poor woman who was only quite naturally doing what I would do– defend her own . Have you any idea what its like to be helpless in the face of authoritarianism ? knowing the woman that brought you into this world you couldn’t defend from dying early ? If I was making allegations that cant be defended WHY was the woman’s post NOT removed from Which or even criticised by the regulars ?? I might be a non PC guy but I will stand up and defend any female in trouble or distress .


I don’t know why you have quoted me in your comment above, Duncan. I am not an expert on powers of attorney but do believe Ian is right and that this is not legal chicanery [or deviousness as you have subsequently suggested].

You are commenting on a story that has been reported in Which?. Are you able to give the reference so that we can look it up? If not you might be relying on your memory of the article or report and that could be selective. For instance, I am surprised that you said that the care home held the lasting power of attorney. That would be extremely unusual unless there were no living relatives. A lawyer drawing up the LPoA would probably question such an instruction.


I notice you have quoted me again, Duncan. The dialogue you have been having about LPoA’s was with Ian, not me – check the time stamps!


John if I misquoted you I apologize it was the local Social Work Dept. that held the LPOA but that was used in conjunction with the complaint by the care home manager as “evidence ” that she should be barred from attending her mother , by the way John it did not stop them from billing her for a large sum of money when she died . Read all the complaints about care homes from relatives here they make accusations much worse than mine is Which going to ban them all ? If so dont do any more convos on this subject as they will be totally biased and one-sided . By the way “somebody” doesn’t like me posting on this subject my PC had an attempted attack. As I have said many times I dont believe in coincidences .


And the Which? guid