You finally find what appears to be a good care home for your loved one, but as the years go by you become concerned about the quality of that care. PamS joins us as a guest to share her struggles of challenging the quality of care at her mother’s care home…
I got on very well with the owners of my mother’s care home until ‘Matron’ (joint owner) began accusing me of owing over five thousand pounds in arrears of fees. I knew this was impossible and was able to prove payment for every period of alleged arrears they came up with, but this caused a lot of ill feeling on her part.
A year later when visiting Mum I found her crying. She needed the bathroom but there was only one carer in the building to attend to the needs of over twenty residents on three floors and he’d refused to take her.
When I complained to Matron her resentment boiled over and she shouted at me again saying I owed £5,000, then told me it was her care home and she could throw my mother out. That afternoon I had a letter giving my mother notice to leave.
Social services told me Mum had no designated social worker and directed me to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), who said they don’t get involved in individual cases. The move went ahead but the stress of it proved too much for Mum and, we believe, accelerated her death two weeks later.
After Mum’s death, I wanted answers. I was right to complain about staffing and I had paid every invoice presented over eight years amounting to more than £160,000.
The Ombudsman said the care home’s owners could evict my mother according to the terms of the contract, but the problem was that I had never had one. When the owners were asked for a signed copy of the contract, they faxed what appeared to me to be an undated photocopy forgery, and then they reported to the local police that they’d had a break-in and, of all things, my mother’s file had been stolen.
The original document I had asked to see could not be produced.
Using a shambolic print out of my mother’s account activity report from the accountants we prepared a spreadsheet and were able to pinpoint all the errors and omissions (which they had never been able to do). The owners agreed their accounts were wrong but never apologised.
Social services held a meeting about the care home and my mother’s case was on the agenda, but they passed me from department to department refusing to tell me what was discussed or if the owners complied with their ‘duty of care’ by having Mum assessed as well enough to withstand a move. Her doctor said he would have advised against the move.
The CQC has not put in place a minimum staff/resident ratio. In my view, if staff numbers remain at the discretion of the care homes, our loved ones may not be cared for properly.
Fees cost thousands of pounds; so shouldn’t there be proper quality in the care that we are paying for?
I’ve added my name to Which?’s care campaign because I agree that we need an urgent review of the care system. Our care system needs care now.