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?