/ Health

Medication left out of reach – home care must change

Our undercover investigation into home care unearthed shocking examples of poor care. Missed visits, forgotten medication and food left out of reach – why aren’t older people being treated with respect?

We asked older people and their families to record their care in a diary for a week. From a woman left alone in the dark for hours unable to find food or drink, to a diabetic man’s vital medication being repeatedly forgotten – carers were often found neglecting the needs of their elderly patients.

But there were some examples of good care, where our diarists reported carers going the extra mile to give excellent service, especially those with regular careworkers. However, a good service was often only provided after complaining, with some family members forced to make continuous phone calls in a battle with agencies.

Is poor communication the cause?

So what’s at the heart of the poor care we’ve uncovered? Can it be blamed on the agencies or the system itself?

The House of Commons Health Committee recently concluded that ‘the current social care system is inadequately funded. People are not receiving the care and support that they need’.

But some of the problems people are experiencing are more basic. In a separate Which? survey, poor communication came out as a big issue, such as agencies failing to let people know that their careworker couldn’t make a visit.

Nearly half of those asked said that at least one visit had been missed in the past six months. Worse still, six in ten had’t been warned in advance.

And poor communication can have a big impact on family carers too. One daughter told us:

‘[The agency] missed a day after Christmas. They incorrectly entered into their database the days we didn’t need care. I covered, but mum didn’t contact me until early evening by which time she needed a lot of clearing up.’

Are care agencies stretched to their limits?

Would it be letting home care agencies off the hook if we said that the system itself is broken, and that they are – as one manager put it – victims caught in a ‘conspiracy of silence’ and unable to challenge the council that pays them? Is the poor care we hear about simply down to these agencies being genuinely stretched to their limits?

Whatever the case, it’s important that the government tackles this issue before missed visits cause serious safety issues and vulnerable people become the next big headline.

Comments
Profile photo of liz potter
Member

Oh my God! I knew the spending cuts would come home to roost eventually. There is plenty of money out there but they keep conning us by saying everyone is living longer and we all have to think about putting some money away to pay for care in our old age and it is demographics! There is nearly £70 billion of tax avoidance and they have the audacity to blame us for getting old and needing some help. I was a full-time family carer for my Mum for 12 years after she had a disabling stroke in 1997 up until she died in 2009 and that experience taught me alot about carers and disability and old age and how we need to fund care support properly and that is called the WELFARE STATE which this government and previous ones have gradually undermined over the years. My Mum received the wonderful Derbyshire County Council Home Help service to help her get out of bed, get washed and dressed and breakfasted. We had private care agencies from time to time and they were awful I am afraid to say. I would always choose the in-house Council service, not for profit, properly paid staff – e.g. the SAFETY NET service that we should have AS OF RIGHT, but I am very worried that the Derbyshire Council Home Care service is withering on the vine as is other Councils and people are being pushed more into the private and voluntary sectors. The in-house service at its best is what we got for my Mum. Compassionate home helps, fully trained, but stretched off course to go on to see other people after my Mum and this was getting worse when she died and I believe now they are pushed to spend less time with people as the Council is trying to save money. Derbyshire introduced charging 2 years ago – probably the last County Council to provide free care for over 30 years and then under Conservative administration, charges came in but I know lots of councils of all colours charge people and have done for years. I became a paid carer after my mum died – a Personal Assistant to an 85 year old lady under the Direct Payments scheme that Councils now have. I would go in for an hour a day to get the lady up and washed and dressed and breakfasted and always made sure she was comfortable before I left even if this took over the hour (unpaid). I could do this as i did not have to go on to another person. We need our Council inhouse services available and fully funded. I would choose Council care every time over private care. This is the most essential service that our Councils have to provide for us and they are just chucking it away and saying they have to balance the budget and make savings. They should be defending and protecting the residents and should go and tell Cameron to give them the right amount of money so they can do this properly for the residents. We deserve a SAFETY NET WELFARE STATE as of right for when we become old or disabled or need support. Good on Which for exposing this and we must not rest until things get back to as they should be. I want the choice of a Council home care service. I don’t want private care agency. I want Council home care and Council residential homes. I am a tax payer and this is what I pay for to have a safety net in my local area that is not for profit and so that my loved ones are safe and secure.

Member
Gerald says:
31 July 2014

Well Liz,

Derbyshire, like many other Councils are Purchasers of Care from Private Providers on behalf of State funded people ie those people which Derbyshire C.C, have through a process of Eligibility criteria (continually changed for the worst) and Means Testing deemed poor enough or physically ill enough to warrant their support .They also are reponcible for placement of these people in places either at home or in a Care which “meets their needs and choice” For the bulk of this work the Councils have turned to the Private Sector,mainly because this is where the Public has chosen to be (If given a choice). Councils also have a duty of care to ensure that places they contract to deliver the quality of Care and service which they are contracted for.
I cannot understand why you seem to be ignoring the above and blaiming or highlighting the faullts of only the Private Sector when quite plainly ,the Councils also have responsibilities and which as far as I am aware most Coincils ,including Derbyshire take most seriously and monitor Private Sector Providers vigourously .
On a more personal Note if you despise the Private Sector so vehemently, why didn’t you go and work for the Council ( I believe they operate Care Homes themselves) whom you so admire to say the least I consider your statement to be unfair and totally biased, constructive critisism is always welcome, political dogma, not welcome

Member
sarah says:
16 March 2012

As an owner of a small family run care agency, it is devstating hearing the level of unprofessional support being provided. we are in the very early stages of development but find it extremly hard to become recognised due to bigger (not always better) agencies being given the ‘ok’ by social services and smaller agencies having to work twice three time even more harder just to be given the ok to become a approved provider we have excellent level of one to one support for our sevice users and famlies, but feel we come up against barriers because we are small. Not all care agencies are bad.
the reasons why we desided to run set up our own care agecny was because we had identied that people/families wernt being given the support they not only deserved but required to live a fulfilled life at possible.

Many Thanks

Sarah Hill

Member
Justine Plumridge says:
16 March 2012

How disappointing this report is … I have worked for a domicillary care agency for 21 years, and have found in these years the only reports that are published are the poor standard of care that is recieved and rarely about the outstanding work the majority of carers do on a daily basis.

Member
Gerald says:
30 July 2014

Totally agree Justine and you will notice most of the negative is blaimed at the Private Sector and yet, as we both know . it is the Public Sector whcih has organised this chaos and underfunded it right from the beginning.

Its is amazing how little publicity is given to the overfunded mess which is happening in the Public Sector (mid staffs hospital etc.)

I wonder if there is a hiden ajenda here somewhere?

Member
Liam Allmark (CSAN) says:
16 March 2012

The appalling findings in today’s report highlight the urgent need to address what are clearly critical issues in the country’s home care system.

Last November the Equality and Human Rights Commission concluded that older people’s human rights were being breached as a result of poor treatment in the system and this report only supports those disturbing findings.

There are obviously serious problems around capacity, funding and communications. It was very telling that less than half of the people surveyed for the report were given the procedure for making complains so where there were problems there was very little hope of them being adequately resolved. In some cases there is also a clear lack of compassion and respect for older people’s dignity, which should always be at the heart of care.

Member
sunderland relative says:
16 March 2012

After a 6mth battle with the local council in Sunderland where we refused to have my ageing mother
(99) transferred to private carers we finally managed to get continuing care for her.

In the same time frame a war veteran was transferred to the same private carers that we refused and within one month he was admitted to hospital and died. He was a diabetic and
was given lucozade and other food that he absolutely should not have been given. He had no
close relatives living in Sunderland only a niece who lived in the south of England so he was left
to carers who had no training in looking after this man. It was a disgrace.
Glad to see Which is putting this plight of elderly on the agenda ,

Member
Gerald says:
30 July 2014

People are being left needing to long and no one Public or Private can reverse this effects of lack of care (including the hospital) so I think it is the lack of funding one should blame and not Carers.

Member
Denise Burke says:
16 March 2012

The Which? report on homecare confirms what families have been telling Good Care Guide since we launched: much care is good and appreciated by older people and their families, but there are still many examples where older people have been badly let down. Common complaints are around the length of visits, lack of companionship, too many different carers, rudeness by some staff and poor communication by the agency when things go wrong.

Rather than passing the buck from the regulator to homecare providers to local government, everyone needs to work together for better care for our ageing population.

After this latest report, there can be no doubt that the care system is severely underfunded and in crisis. Families can’t wait any longer for the government to create a sustainable and fair way to fund better care. Action is needed urgently to tackle the care crisis and address families’ fears.

Member
William Byrd says:
16 March 2012

My experiences pre-date July 2006. Cut backs have nothing to do with it. Although not one visit was missed, the timing of a visit varied by 4 hours. One carer did call if she needed to change the time. I suggested that if this always happened it would help me to make decisions about my wife’s care. I was told that it was against the rules. Travelling time between clients was taken out of the allocated time in those days too – unfortunately for my wife as the previous client lived 20 -25 minutes walk away and most of the carers did not have cars and did not use bikes.
The problem now, as it was then, is that once care is handed over to private companies, after a few weeks of being done by council employees (as it was in my wife’s case) nobody is responsible for making checks. When a child is not protected properly by social services someone loses their job. How often does that happen when an adult is involved is neglected? Carers are often asked to do the impossible. A contract (not just a care plan) must be drawn up stating exactly what is to be done and the time allocated for each actual task. Failure to attend, lateness, failure to carry out a task correctly or to spend the allocated time on it should lead to a refund plus an additional amount paid to the client as compensation. Frequent, UNANNOUNCED checks should be made by social workers, very frequent (weekly at least0 on the most vulnerable. This should be enshrined in law with prison the penalty for senior social service staff who have failed to ensure the contract has been carried out correctly. It is only when punishment for failure is sufficiently severe that those with the power will make sure that proper care is given and be brave enough to rock the boat making themselves unpopular instead of making do so they get promotion or keep their jobs.

Member
s price says:
16 March 2012

Care companies

When we complained in person to the care company we were using the, the owner,made us feel unwelcome and the director shouted at us. They then called the police on us and sent bailiff’s letter to my 84 yr old mother in law. We have since put her in a rest home for her own safety.
We have video and written evidence which has been passed onto our solicitor but do have copies if needed. It has been traumatic for all our family.

Profile photo of richard
Member

As far as I can see – all care for the aged is very substandard – from state pensions below the poverty line to being forced to pay for long term care services that if the old person were younger it would be free. Though we live in a “Welfare State” it appears directed at and for the rich.

It has been going on for years – but started in Thatcher’s Time when I was about to retire..

To be honest I keep wondering if it is a government plan to kill off the elderly – to simply balance their books as we are living too long.

I am elderly and have noticed the deterioration in the regard the public has for the elderly. I’m being told to leave my home “to make way for the young” – Some don’t even believe we have to make a choice between – starving – freezing or begging.

We need to put the responsibility of the care for the elderly (that we were promised “from cradle til grave” in 1948) back in the hands of the Local Authority and the NHS – not privatised as it was under Thatcher. In the 60s both my parents were well looked after as they became infirm – absolutely free.

From what I’ve seen about what has happened to some of my friends – often younger than I – I wouldn’t wish their so called ‘care’ on my enemies. Many of us don’t have families to check how bad it is. It is easy enough – vastly increase the number of proper detailed inspections of both private and public organisations that are supposed to “care for the elderly”.

Will they do it ?- no they won’t !!

Member
Jerry Morley says:
16 March 2012

I agree that care is in a woeful state. Care in one’s home or in a care home is a lottery. You get what you pay for and underpaid poorly motivated employees are never going to perform to expectations.

In my experience going back over 30 years with numerous relatives (including a 96 year registered disabled mother in my home until she had to go into nursing care last year) both the private and the public sector are equally bad. My county council (Buckinghamshire, 136 out of 152 in the Demos league of Council’s coping with cuts to disability services) performed slowly and bureaucratically and I would suggest most of the others behave the same. The problem lies with the middle and higher management who are politically intertwined with whatever political party is running the council and play politics accordingly.

The excuses for oversight bodies, The Care Quality Commission and the Local Authority Ombudsman are just that. Powerless whitewash expensive P.R. exercises which the decision makers (Government ministries and Local Authorities) use to cover their expensive and in many cases fatal mistakes or policy decisions.

I am employed in the Public Sector and to say that after 36 years that I am angry is an understatement. Criminals get better care and continue to have more per head spent on them than any law abiding elderly person.

Member
Gerald says:
30 July 2014

Dear Jerry,
At last someone in the Public Sector has had the guts to tell it “as it is”.
There are a number of conversations at Which? that would benefit from your insight.

Member
M candler says:
16 March 2012

I have been involved in the care sector for over 30 years and in that time it has gone from bad to worse, I have worked for both small and large organisatins the same theme runs through both, the council demand times to be cut insisting a mirowave meal can be cooked and served in 15mins if you dare to sugest this is not care then you are told if you dont do it then there are plenty out there that will. The demands on care agencies to deliver quality care on a a shoe string budget is causing mistakes to be made and no contnuity as staff get frustrated with the system and find other job out of the cre sector.As with all busnesses there are good and bad but those of us that want to be the best get very little encoragement from the people that should be supporting us.Most of us do this job because we care and want to make a diffrence and it is definatly not for the pay, can you say the same?

Member
Ron says:
17 March 2012

I agree wholeheartedly with the findings in your report and the comments.
My wife was taken ill in November 2010 and after returning home from respite she was unable to stand or walk and needed the help of home service care. We were allocated a nationally known care company by Social Services to provide two carers three times each day.
She was bed bound and suffering severe bed sores and I was being pressed by the Doctor and District Nurses to have her moved into a chair during the day. I refused owing to the unsatisfactory service I was receiving from the care company. To move her from bed to chair and back by hoist required two carers and at times only one arrived or there was often a delay in the arrival of the second carer. For example, on Christmas morning 2010 a carer knocked on my door at 0740 hours, somewhat earlier than the agreed time of 0830 hours. It was also difficult at times to communicate with the care company and on one occasion I rang three times and twice left a message without receiving any reply.
This situation gave me reason to find a new care company and we contracted with a small local company for two carers to attend my wife morning, noon and night. The company is owned and run by two ladies, each with 35 years experience as carers. They operate single and double care rounds and from time to time they personally conduct a round together or one will accompany one of the usual carers. They can be contacted by phone 24 hours a day and when absent from the office the call is automatically transferred to one of their mobile phone. Since moving to this company on January 15th 2011, without fail, every time I have answered the door there has been two carers who have arrived together and are within 1/4 hour either side of the agreed time. The company consult with me should it be necessary for there to be a permanent or temporary arrangement to our agreed times and I will be notified by phone should there be a possible delay in their attendance owing to traffic problems or a difficulty with the previous call.
As any person in a similar position to me will know, it is vitally important to be able to have 100% confidence in those who provide such a vital service. For my part, I suggest it is important to look for the services from a company whose owners or managers are experienced, completely familiar and knowledgeable with what is required for providing excellent home care services.

Member
sarah says:
19 March 2012

When helping my mother get her assessment for Dementia, I was constantly coming across the establishment view that the ‘ideal’ was that she remained living alone, independantly with carers visiting if necessary. As though not seeing a sole for hours and relying on the professionalism of overstretched carers, but knowing that your the master of your own home is nirvana.

As I lived 2.5 hours away and could not monitor any carers I did not have confidence in this scenario. We all decided it was better if she moved in with us. This gives her much more stimulation and home cooked meals, no problems about tablets not being ordered, missed hospital visits, doorstep conmen, silent calls, … and carers not turning up or not doing their job properly, and me a lot less worry.

Member

My mother in law who has Alzheimers was awarded 2 hours of care per week for carers to come in and prepare her meal and give her medication four times a week to give my husband and I, both of whom work full time hours albeit that I work compressed hours (5 days over 4) in order to be available to take her to appointments etc. a break. Although there was supposed to be one or at most 2 carers to come at 6 p.m. there was a different person each day who turned up at anywhere between 4 and 9 p.m. Hardly surprising that my mother in law didn’t want food at such varying times and although already a very petite woman lost over a stone through not eating properly. Eventually and I have to say , without the help from the Mental Health Team to whom we are affiliated, we insisted on Direct Payments, employed a different company who are not in the Social Service network and now we have 2 carers a week who have got to know my mother in law, ensure she eats healthy food, liaise with us whenever necessary and are both flexible and caring. Perhaps Local Authorities ought to be asking Service users more regularly about the care they receive as in 2 years no-one asked and no-one seemed to listen to complaints.

Member
John says:
23 March 2012

OK, I get that you need evidence, and you have loads.

This situation is outrageous. If these were children, there would be an outcry, a public uprising.
We need an “Older Person in Need” night on TV just as much as Children in Need or Sport Relief.
Elderly people often cannot do things for themselves. They hate being dependant on others, they fond it hard to hear, to see, lose feeling in their fingers so the lose their sense of touch. And so on and so on. They need as much help as young children and a lot more patience.

They are not cute little kids. They tend to be wrinkly and widened. This facade leads to many prejudices. They are often treated as imbeciles, as having no valid opinion. And because they are dependent, they dare not challenge poor service or poor treatment; younger folk would complain far more in a restaurant than people do over appalling treatment of the elderly. elderly people need someone to speak out for them. Not just the news today, gone tomorrow, but on the news day after day after day after day until it changes.

There’s no getting away from the ravages of time on the human body. We should be giving elderly people the same respect and care we give to children. There are a lot of elderly voters who need to give the Government a bloody nose at the next election if they don’t change things. We need MPs elected under an Independent Care for the Elderly banner – we will (nearly) all be old one day.

We need a national sustained campaign, which gets the country behind a change to the way we look after old people. I’m sick of hearing the excuses, the whining, the moaning that we can’t do better. We MUST do better. How can we be raising money tonite for Africa when we have such dire treatment of our own elderly people, many of whom have contributed great things to their communities over their lifetimes, only to be treated badly.

Sorry for ranting, but ranting is what is needed. Repeatedly. Are you up to leading the campaign Which? or is your report the end of the matter?

Member
John says:
23 March 2012

Oh, sorry – there ARE some very good carers. Brilliant, poorly paid, dedicated carers. But recent reports of the standards of care in hospitals, or appalling neglect in care homes, of sub stand care from care agencies, of hand wringing by social services, – if I speak to just my relatively small circle of friends and acquaintances – we can come up with examples of ALL of these bad examples. I can tell you of a great carer, of great council care service, but it is the exception in our experiences. So, a pat on the back for the good ones, but we have to change the more common poor service.

Member
NVQ2 home carer says:
25 March 2012

Carers are routinely expected to take on a great deal of responsibility (last week I had to call 999 and perform resuscitation on an elderly lady who had sadly died) in return for pay rates only just above the national minimum wage. These wages are often paid only for the time spent at a client’s house, rather than at an hourly rate, so travel time is unpaid. In addition, some agencies don’t in any case allow any travel time between calls, which means that the carer has the choice of giving the full amount of time to clients and running increasingly late, or using some of the care time for travelling. The Which investigation report did not touch on the important issue that, partly because of the poor pay structure, many carers are recruited from outside the UK. This is not a criticism of those carers but inevitably there are differences in culture and difficulties in communication to be overcome. Finally, let’s not lose sight of the fact that not all clients (a better term than the horribly anonymous “service users”) are elderly, and that carers need different skills to look after younger people.

Profile photo of powersense
Member

I am a director of a long-established domiciliary care agency, which for the benefit of the uninitiated means that we provide care in our clients’ own homes as distinct from their being constrained to relocate to a nursing home or hospital and receiving the same care there.

To some extent, this problem is endemic in our society, because as a nation, we just don’t like to complain, although sadly there is now increasing evidence that even when we do so in this area, our complaints are going unheeded – as indeed is sadly illustrated even in some of the letters above this one.

However there are other identifiable reasons for the generally abysmal standard of the care of the elderly in the UK (in both the private and the public sector incidentally) and about which I could write a long and depressing dissertation, but in a nutshell, the main reasons (from the originating cause downwards) are as follows:

• Lack of an adequately cohesive government policy on the problem.
• Huge and grossly wasteful use of public funding.
• Lack of plain commonsense and intelligence amongst those who administer that policy – at all levels, but particularly within local social services departments.
• Lack of adequate (or any) hands-on experience on the part of many of those same people.
• Lack of adequate policing of the industry, leading to the continued survival of rogue providers and the continuation of the abuses they perpetrate therefore.

So ingrained is this general malaise that most of it will now take years to put right, but having so said, there is one element that not only could be addressed immediately, but which would give the rest of the repair process a running start:

We have all of us repeatedly seen those TV exposés on programs such as Panorama and the like about rogue providers only to realise that such exposés make absolutely no difference to the problem because those charged with policing the industry simply do nothing about the abuses so exposed.

If they were given more teeth to do so however, and errant care providers and institutions were simply closed down where there was blatant and consistent abuse of their clientele, than that measure alone would make a huge and swift inroad into the problem and not least because it would deter other providers from engaging in the same practices.

James Towers

Member
Andrew Brown says:
26 March 2012

I think your which care survey, campaign is brilliant, and would like to have my 2 penneth worth.

The situation we find ourselves is of our own making. Years and years of doing things for cheaper and cheaper.

Lets be factual 100% of the blame lies with successive governments. Fact is the client does not matter. Care does not matter. Employees (care staff do not matter). WHAT DOES MATTER IS COST. THAT IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS. More for less is this countries ethos.

I am a father of a 24 year old daughter who provides care to the vulnerable in the community. She works for Echoes Care Agency in Basingstoke Hampshire. As such I hear first hand how bad it is. Whilst she does not get minimum wage £8-9 per hour she is paid by the minute. I can confirm the following.

She regularly has to do 14 hour days from start to finish of her day.

She does not get travelling time between clients and is therefore unpaid.

In her day she can have a 2-3 hour gap from one client to the next for which she does not get paid mileage or time. This effectively means she has to sit in her car and wait for the next clients time or travel home at her own expense, to then travel back roughly to where she has just come from to do the later calls.

She is paid by the minute, has to log in at the start of the call, and log out at the end.

If she gets there early she does not get paid.

If she leaves early she does not get paid.

If she runs late because of the client needing extra care, she does not get paid. She has to wait justify the extra time, this then has to be applied for retrospectively by the care agency to the council. Maybe she will get paid maybe not, but definitely not when she is due to be paid.

She has to use her own mobile for all calls, to book in and out, for every call. Also to ring the office if she has concerns about a patient, or if she has to ring a relative, as she is not allowed to use the clients phone. She is not reimbursed for this.

She only gets 20p per mile fuel allowance, (this has been the same since petrol was £1 a litre).
Whilst I acknowledge she can get a further 25p per mile through the tax system, she was owed 14 000 miles, but because of maternity, inland revenue said they could not give her a cheque for the money owed, she would have to wait to get it back when she returned to work through her tax coding.

She does not get paid for the first and last journey. To save money they usually give her the furthest calls as first and last.

She is often late having to play catch up because of traffic, a double up is late, or a client has kept them longer, which can mean she finishes gone 11, again because of this her pay is cut but she works longer.

The order of clients is not sensible, going backwards and forwards to the same area rather than doing all calls in A before moving to B.

She has had to leave clients who are lonely and crying because she has to get to her next call.
She advises me she does not get her mileage money for up to 6 weeks after she has incurred the fuel costs, again she is effectively paying to do her job. She spends on average £40-50 per week in fuel to get back in the order of £20-30 at 20p per mile.

They are further looking to make further savings by merging other areas of the business into one and merging several care areas into one. Reducing back room staff. The examples quoted include, pay being centralised. But more importantly one person/office planning all calls for a vast geographical area. Which ultimately trying to manage hundreds of staff to thousands of clients, will lead to things being done at stupid times, bed at 18:00 etc, so little regard for the client on no regard for the care giver.

The continual drive/process of getting more for less can only result in the long term to two things, poorer service for the client, and poorer pay/conditions of service for the staff. This will inevitably result in poor staff motivation leading to poorer care, high turnover rates, inconsistency in training and level of service, inconsistency/poorer care for the client.

Let’s be honest the people needing care are not human beings, officially they are entitled clients, but all they are is numbers, to the agency and to the respective local authorities and government who administer this process. Working cheap, making people pay to effectively work for you, is only going to lead to poor and inconsistent standards. Nothing will improve all the time cost is the sole motivator

My daughter is currently looking at other alternatives having skills experience in child care and retail.

Andrew Brown

Profile photo of Rebecca Owen-Evans
Member

Thank you very much for all your comments on this Conversation – we really do appreciate the time you’ve taken to tell us about your experiences. At Which? we know that care of older people is a very important issue and that’s why we’ve continued to investigate it. We’ll carry on using our findings to improve the services that people use – and to involve other organisations in this work too. There are currently cross-party talks going on about long-term care – and we expect an Adult Social Care White Paper in April that should set out the Government’s plans in this area. So there is an opportunity now for all of us who care about this issue to contact our local MPs and tell them what we think needs to be done. To contact your local MP, visit http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

Member
Mark Ziervvogel says:
26 April 2012

My wife was in a care home for 20 months in Dalmuir near Glasgow. I could not fault care she received – the staff were always caring, attentive, kind, helpful – they deserved every description of praise that anyone could think of. At a time when care homes get so much poor media attention I can assure you there are some that excel. My only criticism would be the appalling rates of pay for care home workers and the unnecessary amount of paperwork they are required to complete – it seems that management puts paperwork ahead of care.

Member
gerald says:
13 February 2013

Dear Mark,
It is refreshing to hear, in these conversations some one taking the trouble to praise Care Homes to often it is only people who have had a bad experience who take the trouble of complaining.I totally agree that Carers wages should be higher than minimum wage , unfortunately the County Councils which we work for did not agree and many times at so called yearly negotiations with them they awarded the Private Sector nil or minimum increases which failed to cover costs, when we questioned Councillors over this matter we never received any reasoned reply and were always fobbed off by lack of Government Funding and the old saying “Take it or leave it”.
WIth regards to paperwork it is not the management of the Homes which are responsible, it is the Beurocracry of the CQC and other Government bodies which insist on all these records, for poof please refer to CQC reports which regularly insist on more and more paperwork .
We lost many good Care Staff when they introduced NVQs as many of them were unable to cope with paperwork, it appears you have to be literate to be caring !!

Member
Ken Maddison says:
26 April 2012

My wife passed away in March this year having suffered MS for 40 years during which time I was her main carer. We had tried local Authority care workers and agency care workers and were never able to find any that were any use at caring for someone who could do nothing for themselves.
The only time my wife was in a care home was for 9 days when I was hospitalised, and she was so bad when she came out I took legal action and the home settled out of court. It took me and a team of nurses 6 months to heal the damage done by the home’s neglect. The dog received better care in kennels.
The last time this home was inspected was in 2008, the year my wife was in there, and even though I sent all details to the CQC no further inspection has taken place.
I put a report on the new site-good care guide- to warn people how bad it was, but the owners of the site removed it as ” the home has disputed your report”?? Obviously they only accept good reports.
In all the years I have been a carer I have never found a home I would risk putting a dog in, and things will never improve while councils expect to be able to farm out social care to private-for profit- agencies at less cost than providing it themselves.

Member
Gerald says:
30 July 2014

Dear Ken,

Why do you politicies the issue? in the light of the Mid Staffs Hospital you shouldrealise that that are Rogues in both the Public and Private Sectors.
Surely, having the years of experiance you have you could have done your homework better and choses a more appropriate Care Home, one which had a good track record and one which was properly staffed. Bye the way I have worked in the Private Sector for many years and had to sort out many legacies given to us by the Public Sector .
Why did you put your Mum into a Home which in your own words “you would no put a dog in” I wonder?

Profile photo of zanderwed
Member

My wife worked as a visiting domiciliary nurse for old people for ten years, until she was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. We managed with some outside help for five years, and she has been in a care home for the past year and a half, now bedbound and spoonfed. The home and the carers are wonderfully loving and professional, after a couple of early blips when her specs and teeth went missing.

Member
Gerald says:
31 July 2014

Dear Zanwed,

Knowing the system you obviously chose well (and related to the levels of care needed) and had the sense to go to a Care Home which could deliver the service required.
Prehaps you could give others the benefit of your knowledge and detail a few Guidance Notes to help them acheive a satisfactory result.
Care at Home is NOT a replacement or substitute for 24 hr & 7day 365 days a year care in a Care Home , it is ,however considerably cheaper, people have to make their own decisions of what they really need or want to pay for.

Member
Huw Jones says:
14 May 2012

My elderly mother has been received daily care visits in her own home by a local care company (One 2 One Private Care Services, Ashford, Kent), which she funded herself. Although most individual carers were good in looking after my mother well, they invariably stayed less than the time contracted for. When I installed a security camers that recorded arrival and departure times, and sent the results to the company requesting a meeting to discuss this, they immediately – with no notice – cancelled all further visits. I did not pick-up this email for several days, leaving my 94 year old mother bereft of care for those days. All registered care agencies have an obligation to investigate and try to resolve all complaints, but this company clearly have failed in their duty, as the Care Quality Commission inspector appointed to look into this matter pointed out to me. Oh, and the agency have failed to return my mother’s house keys.

Member
shelokay says:
27 March 2013

You say the care workers didnt stay the whole allocated time.. but was everything done that needed doing at the visit? i wander if the call time was too long?

Member
brian linegar says:
29 July 2014

I fully agree with the original quote from huw jones in this matter and I do not find it very fair that a woman of 94 should be left alone.

Member
Brian Tout says:
2 June 2012

Recently, an elderly woman friend, who is badly crippled with arthritis, contracted pneumonia and spent a few days in hospital recovering. She decide to coplete her convalescence at the BUPA hospital at Little Aston, Walsall, having stayed there many times before and always been well looked-after. This time, however, it was dreadful. The room was COLD and the food was poor, with no choice!
When she protested she was first offered an extra blanket, and later a nurse found a portable heater..
Next morning, when she complained again the maintenance man came to see her to say that the central heating switched off because it was too warm outside (not true!) and she shouldnt have the heater because of safety rules. The charge for this”service” was £200 per day, reduced later to £160 as a gesture of “goodwill”. She discharged herself immediately, preferring to struggle on her own at home – with support from friends.
No member of management came to see her, and she was reluctant to say more at the time because she was unwell and also she was aware that many residents have dementia and might suffer if she made a fuss. Compare this account with the tone of BUPA’s Tv adverts.

Profile photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald
Member

To mark Carers Week, Joanna has provided a round up of some of the experiences you’ve shared here. It’s available at https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/carers-week-poor-care-home-care/ if you’d like to continue this discussion.

Member
Mary Evans says:
29 July 2012

Some private Care Agencies are not bothered about good client care, as long as they get the contracts that’s all that matters to them. Care workers who cover 24hrs shifts are underpaid by their agency,hours spent at the client’s house should not be classed as unmeasured work. Depending on the clients needs after assessment from Social services for a 24hrs care the agency can be paid between £1500-£2500 per client, per week from the Council then the agency will pay the care worker £50-£70 for a 24hrs shift, divided by 24hrs it is definitely below the NATIONAL PAY RATE which everyone is entitle too. where is the rest of the 14hrs money going? this should be classed as fraud. Surly the amount the amount the agency receives from the council is sufficient to pay the carer a decent wage also make a good profit for themselves, they don’t need to be so greedy.

Member
Gerald says:
31 July 2014

Dear Mary,

The Council is responsible for the Contracts iwhich they enter into for quality and value for money and if you have evidence to support your statements I strongly suhhest you go to the Local Authority Ombudsman or even you local Councillor .If you really think it is FRAUD then you should got to the police. I am amazed that which? have allowed you to make this sort type of statement as they are normally against such blanket derogatory rants

Member
RICHARD RADFORD says:
27 October 2012

Have you published any reports on the best firms to use who provide personal alarms? We are looking for the cheapest but good and reliable ones. Age U.K. ones are regarded as disappointingly expensive. I am enquiring on behalf of an elderly lady who may need to call for help at any time of the day or night.

Member
ANN O'CONNOR says:
31 October 2012

I am currently with the third ‘care agency’ since April 2011. I am so disappointed with the quality of service. I do not know what to do next. Nobody is interested in helping to improve, not even MP… I will now pursue CQC but am concerned that current agency has not been inspected and judgements about one of the others.
I have kept a detailed log of good & so many poor events, some devastating. Who would be interesting in using this information?

Member
Juliet Cottle says:
28 November 2012

I have contacted the CQC but not received a response; they only seem interested in the Ts being crossed and the Is being dotted! And, of course, it is all about the service the clients receive, not about how the care workers are treated.

Member
Gerald says:
31 July 2014

Dear Ann,
You fail to say in what role you approached the three agency (worker or client) perhaps you could clarity and then maybe I could help to direct you.

Member
Gerald says:
31 July 2014

Dear Juliet,

The CQC have enough work on their plate dealing with the NHS failings and complaints about the mistreatment of people (Seniors and Juniors) in Care .In spite if recent revelations with regards to Actions of Senior Staff cover ups of reports of serious incidents related to elderly patients of Mid Staffs Hospital I genuinely now that the inspectorate is becoming independant of councils and polititions etc we might get what we all want which unbiased, honest and fair reports .

The working conditions, pay rates and other employment issue are not within the mandate of CQC you need to got to ACAS or your Union (UNISON if you are a public servant) if you are in need of help in these matters

Member
Juliet Cottle says:
28 November 2012

I have recently worked for a care agency attached to a local church; I was seriously disappointed in the larger care agencies as I could see that everyone would be stretched to the limit with little time to do anything of any import for each client, so specifically chose what I saw as a genuinely caring agency.

Unfortunately, the agency does not care about its employees, though they, naturally, think they do. Like so many others, I was expected to be available from, for example, 7 am through to 10.30 pm. I may only have about 6 hours’ worth of work during this time. All the running around was at my expense (this was not mentioned at interview) and I could be doing a 14 mile return journey from home 3, even 4 times a day; some days I was paying them to work! When I complained I was effectively constructively dismissed: Either you work the 3 shifts or we call it a day.

My last few days this agency broke several employment laws: I was expected to work until 10.30pm and be back at work 7.15am (both jobs were a good half hour drive from home), I was then expected to work from 7.17am through to 4pm without a break! My pay was paid almost 2 months in arrears – I would work, say all of September and this would be paid into my bank at the end of October. None of my pack packets ever equated to what I considered I had worked in that time.

When I left my employer thought she was being generous by paying me some extra days, when I became unable to work due to a back injury, compounded by their expecting me to hoover through someone’s house a short while later, after having enquired as to how my back was! I have no idea whether any holiday pay has been paid, it doesn’t state anything on the payslip.

All in all if the CQC were actually genuinely interested in the service these are issues they would be addressing, since, in my opinion, if you do not treat the workers with respect and dignity then there is every likelihood that it will impact on the service being provided. This does not seem to interest anyone and I am convinced that this is the road to success.

Member
shelokay says:
27 March 2013

im curious at to what employment laws the agency broke?

With driving there is strict laws about end and start times, but this is professional drivers like bus and coach drivers..

i would like to see the exact laws you are refering to

Member
Gerald says:
31 July 2014

Julliet,

You need to go to ACASS please read the opening conversation, I do not believe workers employment issues is mentioned ,The inadequacies of the Care at Home System is complex enough without getting sidetracked into employment problems.
Maybe your local Council might assist by making your employer price for giving Care workers a better deal and then ensure that they pay for it

Member
shelokay says:
27 March 2013

Which talk about a woman left in the dark.. Is the family aware of timer switches? have a lamp or 2 put onto the timer switch and they will turn themselves on and off..
you can buy them in most hardware stores

Member
brian linegar says:
29 July 2014

I fully agree with what has been said. In fact I have just sent in a complaint because it seems to me that as you past 70 yrs of age they seem to care even less. My gran has breast cancer and has been told that she needs a nurse to go in twice a day. The only problem seems to be that the night nurses don’t always turn up and because she takes “Warfarin” she bleeds from the area affected. Without the night nurse going in she gets soaked in blood. She will be 92yrs old in October. It is a disgrace that she paid in all her working life and is treated worse than an animal.

Member
joyce hunter says:
3 April 2016

My father is in a nursing home in Penn Wolverhampton, he’s had so many un explain injuries, I have taken pictures, report it to wolverhampton Safe Guarding, Walsall social services that pay towards his care,CQC, Health watch, no one appears to care. the CQC will pass it on to Safe guarding, safe guarding ignored me for months,
His last injury was on the 11th march 2016, I was informed by the nurse that same day that 2 carers was cleaning him in the toilet and he slip off the toilet, new cross hospital stated that the wound was too deep for stitches it had to be glued,
I was so upset and angry that I put some of his injuries on face book to get some help, only to be banned by the home , on the 14th March, other family and friends try to visit and the home told them they cant see him, I went to the home on the 25th only to be told no you cant see your dad, I am worried sick for my fathers life in this home

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

Hello Joyce, my apologies for the delay in replying to you. I’m sorry to hear about your father, it sounds like a very frustrating and stressful situation for you.

We have an advice guide on how to deal with unsatisfactory care on our Which? Elderly Care website here: http://www.which.co.uk/elderly-care/your-relatives-needs/dealing-with-unsatisfactory-care

To escalate complaints and raise your concerns about a care home it’s best to fist speak with the care home, as you’ve done, then with the local authority. In this case, I understand that it would be Wolverhampton City Council’s Adult Social Care unit (telephone 01902 551199). You may also want to speak to the Relatives and Residents Association, it’s a charity that supports older people in residential care and their families, their contact details are here: http://www.relres.org/contact-us.html

I hope that helps.