Friday, 3 June 2011

Horrific abuse Exposed - Panorama

People make assumptions about why I ‘put’ C in a residential home – it’s so hard you poor thing you couldn’t cope or so I could have a life or because I just don’t care as those places are so dreadful. But all these couldn’t be further from the truth.
Maybe that’s a blog post for another day.

People also make assumptions about residential homes which have been reinforced by the recent Panorama undercover care programme that all homes are like this - it’s the tip of the ice burg.

As a parent respect, dignity and value are not only vitally important for C but for his staff as well. They are C’s backbone and a reflection of how C is doing.
My way of supporting and building relationships was to set up a parent forum who meets regularly, this helps with communication, transparency and trust. Working together.

C’s service provider has just sent out a response about the programme to all the family carers to reassure us about their commitment. And a senior manager has sent me a more personal account to share;

It’s the evening of Tuesday 31st May just after 9pm, I’m listening to the radio and working my way through a big pile of ironing. I get a text from a journalist friend “R U watching this care thing on Panorama, its horrible”. I suddenly remember a colleague last week telling me about an exposé on a care home and I’d forgotten, so dash to switch on and suddenly I am gripped to the TV, the longer I watch a tightness spreads over my stomach and I’m overcome with a helpless anger. Over and over in my head then out loud at the TV screen “why the bloody hell are you just standing there?” I shout at the care staff on the TV. I’m angry at the journalist, I’m angry at the staff, my mind races as the mobile texts start flooding in, one then another then another....

I work in social care for an organisation which has more than 10 care homes and a supported living agency serving people with challenging behaviour and learning difficulties. I work with many people who didn’t understand that night why they were watching the staff in a modern day care home abusing vulnerable human life in a way they wouldn’t treat a rabid dog.

I start to read the text which range from Care Home Managers, Deputy Managers and Care Staff and external colleagues, my friends too all astonished at the ghastly images they are viewing. I get text from these sweet people telling me of their tears and sadness, all of them asking ‘why?’

The programme ends and I get a text from a Male Manager whom I respect for his outstanding commitment to the human rights of the people he serves, his text reads “well that makes us all look shit”. My response is to comfort the staff and tell them they should be proud of what they deliver and that they are always transparent. I am so thankful I chose to work for this organisation and that our systems are so hot on safeguarding.

I get ready for bed feeling saddened that despite all the lessons that should have been learned, abuse of that magnitude is still taking place. It goes round and around in my head whilst I can’t sleep; all those people in that room witnessing; what is wrong with people? If I were being kicked in the street would they all walk past?

Next day I arrive at work, my office colleagues begin a day-long dialogue with every visitor and colleague that comes through the door. This continues all day with staff just reaching out for comfort; all the management reassure them; we feel for them as they are scrutinising their practice and scurrying through risk assessments to check they are not depriving people’s liberty, they are all edgy and where they walk with pride in the community on an average day, feel like the world is judging them today.

People I work with are recruited because they share the company ethos, we are one of the hardest companies to get a job with and have little turnover, this documentary has made our beautiful fulfilling roles into something tainted and dirty. Yes, it has served a purpose, but day 1 for that journalist should have been enough, that poor person suffered at the hands of people with a need to control because of his greed to further his career. So many people have something to answer to following that programme. I go onto BBC i-player, grab the link and email it to all the managers, just in case anyone missed it, most didn’t and those who did later responded the same.

As the day progresses I get a couple of emails from families, they are of support for all we do, so my eyes begin to fill and I share the news and others are delighted for this desperate confirmation that not all the world sees social care as a negative.

A few days on and many conversations later our industry is still in shock and still responding. We all pray that senior management of all large organisations have their finger on the pulse because the image of that beautiful and vulnerable life on the TV being tortured and abused will never leave my mind.

Each one of us could be in a residential home one day.
It is up to all of us.


JoyMama said...

Keep the faith (I know you do, I know you will) -- in your colleagues, in the work you're doing, in your secure knowledge that things CAN be better if we all make them so.

Hugs from across the pond!

Julie L. said...

Yes, that story is horrible and it definitely made an impact. It's not the first time I've read or heard about abuse in homes.
It' great that the other side of the story was told lousy this story made those in the business of residential care feel. It's important to be vigilant of the possiblibilty of abuse, but not to generalize too much as to think all residential homes are abusive and horrible places to send people to live.

I have a good friend here in the U.S. who oversees staff caring for young men with autism who in a group home. She works hard, does a great job and has a HUGE heart. People who do a great job working in residential homes every day should hold their heads up high.

Keep up the good work with this blog and with what you do!! The parent group sounds wonderful, btw. I'm hoping you do write post about why you sent C to a residential home, (though after getting to know you a bit, I have some guesses why you did.) I think a lot of people could benefit from it...including me. :)

No Guile said...

I spent 10 years working in nursing homes usually on the Alzheimer units. People just get a bad idea of residental care for young or old and it is just not the truth. Yes there are some crappy ones out there ones I wouldn't put my worst enemy in but there are also some really great ones that get overlooked and trashed every time a story like this hits the air.

Kahless said...

I watched the programme with anger and with tears. I too questioned why the journalist had to film for so long.

Not once did I judge or question the whole of the profession, or indeed any other care worker than those on the telly.

As for those 'care' workers from Bristol; I hope they go to prison.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Thank you for your perspective on this programme that I couldn't even watch to the end. You're absolutely right that not every residential home is like this - my Granny's care home looked wonderful. Not so much my Mum's :( In the residential part of the school that Smiley goes to I never saw anything to worry me when I popped up if she was on respite. The only problem there now seems to be a lack of staff and direction now that all the children are to be moved out into community homes whether they like it or not!

Cheri said...

I couldn't watch the clip as it is not available in my area. As a person who worked in a school distric with profoundly disabled students for 13 years and in a group home for disabled adults, I have seen problems that I really couldn't fix - no matter how much I wanted to. You can't know how many times I wish I had the technology to film some of the things I saw. Without it, it was just the work of a teacher aid against that of a long time teacher that normal adults seemed to think was perfect. Of course, the abuses were not physical, but emotional and psychological, and in the US it is next to impossible to prove that kind of abuse - Today I would just film it on my cell phone!

Jen does EXACTLY what EVERY parent should do for their vulnerable offspring. She is involved, she is demanding, and she is supportive to the staff that care for her son. If ALL parents were like that, no teacher, peer, or staff person would get away with abusing a vulnerable person.

As horrible as it must seem, I would imagine that the reporter wanted to have enough evidence to be able to stop this home from ever abusing again. The management could say with one incident it was the individual, but with more evidence he may have been able to show that it was an intrinsic problem with that home. I think people need to be always aware that vulnerable people get abused and that it isn't ok - this reporter has put it in the eye of the public - again. I'm sorry that some people felt saddened by being generalized into that group. Instead, perhaps they should have joined in the chorus of anger and let everyone know how they managed to keep these things from happening in their homes. Problem solve from here so that this abuse can eventually be stopped.

Abuse is a nasty parasite - it gets in silently and before you can see what's happening there is terrible damage. I hope the vicitims of this abuse will be ok.

Leslie: said...

How terrible. People need to do their research when contemplating putting a loved family member into any sort of institution. My parents went to a wonderful caring facility, yet a friend of mine sent her father to a private one. Some of the stories she told me about what was going on was awful and I told her to get her Dad out of there, but she didn't want to cause waves - she had so many reasons why she should leave him there and I was horrified! I can tell you are devoted to the industry and this particular place was the odd one out. Unfortunately, it gives all the good facilities a bad name! Keep on speaking out for what you know is good and right.

kathleen said...

Well said-thank you for sharing that. Assumption..oh it can be devastating at times can't it? My biggest fear is that in a week or so, people will get caught up in something else and forget about this...forget about those people and the indignities that they have endured..THAT worries me more than anything. Yes, it is up to us..every second of every minute of every day...

Chris H said...

I could not view the video, and I'm glad I couldn't!
I'm sure it was dreadful... so sad.

Ron said...

"Each one of us could be in a residential home one day.

It is up to all of us.

You said it, Casdok!

My mother use to work in a geriatric residential home as a volunteer and shared many stories of how they were neglected. Yet, she also share many positive stories concerning other residential homes where the care was impeccable

So, like Kitty Kay shared....there are good ones as well as crappy ones. And it's ashame that people tend to only view them all as negative.

Sharing much love with you and C!

Have a great weekend, dear Casdok.

((((( Casdok ))))


dluvscoke said...

I felt like people passed judgement on me when I chose to have my son attend the Oregon School for the Blind at age 7. He was schooled and dormed there 5 days a week and was home only on weekends. I think it is normal to worry. I certainly did. But I also did my homework and kept up with the goings-on at the school. My son was there until age 14, when we moved out of state. God bless our children with special needs as well as their parents and other GOOD people who take care of them.

Unknown said...

I feel desperately sorry for those good people working in the social care 'industry', which is what it will become as privatisation takes hold. I hope the popular press get a balance on this issue, one bad apple can do a lot of damage.

I totally agree with you about parent forums etc. If more parents/carers/family/friends got involved with care outside of home and made it their business to know more about the care providers they employ standards would be kept high.

Obviously good and appropriate training is essential, but sadly lacking in some areas. In our area we have an active group of parent/carers who are involved with in house training for social services and are also involved with the delivery of the social work degree course in the University of Glamorgan. The more visible the families of service users are, the better the out comes not only for for your own child (regardless of how old they are!) but also for the other service users who may have no one beyond social services to look out for them.

I could go on, but as you said.. that's a blog post for another day.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

It is up to everyone of us, Casdok. Very well said, as usual.

Maggie May said...

This home (Panorama) is right on our doorstep. This just filled me with horror. Those poor residents never deserved to be treated like that. I hope the so called care assistants get their just deserts.

Old peoples' homes too .... are sometimes just as bad.
I think, as I get older, how this could affect me.
People must be vigilant. We must root out these people who prey on vulnerable people.

I am so pleased you are on top of the situation and that you're doing so much for the cause.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

jess said...

the expose is heartbreaking, but thank god for people like the manager at c's program.

Shrinky said...

I too saw this, and wept throughout in anger, outrage, hurt and disbelief. My knee-jerk reaction was to vow Sam will NEVER be placed into a care home. I am glad to have read this fli-side of the coin, and am sure there are a lot of dedicated people out there who truly do care about the dignity and quality of life of those they are trusted to care for. That said, the parents and loved ones of the vulnerable adults we witnessed being abused, must also have felt the people in charge at that place were to be trusted, a trust that was obviously very mis-placed. I am still too numb to respond rationally right now, my stomach is still in knots.

Patty O. said...

I so admire what you do! It is important to give the carers support--it really stinks that the good ones are made to look bad because of the crap ones. I agree that it is horrific that abuse like this continues to take place.

Honeysuckle said...

I think as a parent that alarm bells would've rung over visiting arrangements and the general lack of transparency. Parents and friends of residents should be welcome in the home anytime.

I couldn't watch the programme but I believe visiting was pretty restricted in where and how visits took place?

jazzygal said...

I heard about the Panarama programme Casdok and was watching the tweets. That programme came a day after we had watche two shocking programmes on our national TV herre in Ireland about home carers and how desperately they are trying to survive amid the cuts. Also referre to our Special education cuts. I was too upset and angry to sleep that night, so i understand how you feel. I was also too upset and angry to watch panarama the next day. I heard it was even more shocking.

What IS wrong with people? These programmes are vital to make people aware but in panarama's case it's essentai;l that not every care home gets tarred with the same brush.

xx Jazzy

Gina @ Special Happens said...

I have to admit, I have no idea what you're talking about, but my imagination and experience doesn't falter and I can picture it in my mind. It disgusts me.

I hope people know not all facilities, not all staff are the same, but still, it makes one leery. I can't possibly bring myself to watch the program for fear my heart will explode through my throat with anger. But I'm sharing your post. Thank you Casdok!

McKenna said...

It is so heartbreaking to hear the stories of abuse, I'm glad your son is in a safe place and that you have found people who care so deeply about him and take pride in their jobs.

secret agent woman said...

It's a real problem. Locally, there was a recent scandal here of some aides in a nursing home abuse patients and taking photos as souvenirs. It's sickening and terrifying.

Paulene Angela said...

This story has been one of the main headlines on the Spanish news. It's painful news for all.

Professional ethics .... relevant training!!! we did not see.

Quite frankly an apology from the company such as "we're sorry" is really not good enough, they should lose their license, minimum for 5 years.

I do not ask for more control, we really have quite enough, but I do ask for compulsory on going training, linked to very high standards.


Sockitmama said...

Thank you, Mother of Shrek, for sharing this article. What I feel is really missing from residential care is input from the autism community. And, people with autism and parents of autistics on staff/boards/advisory counsels that regulate these facilities. We have to have more of US in order to secure safety and a future for those we love and care about.

Anonymous said...

I hope you do write about putting C in a residential home. It is something i myself have conflicting feelings about. The Panorama programme certainly has'nt helped. Hope you're ok x

Suburbia said...

I couldn't watch it, does that make me a coward?

Thanks for this though. As always there are good and bad in everything, so sad that people doing a wonderful job should be brought down by the few.

Larry Arnold PhD FRSA said...

I think the BBC reporter needed nerves of steel to witness what he did and to go on filming. It is vitally necessary that there is enough evidence of this kind of wrongdoing, as all too often it is dismissed as a one of aberration, a momentary slip due to stress or whatever. It needed to be shown that his was continuous and cold blooded. Not only that the reporter would have been in personal danger had it been caught out filming, those are clearly not the type of people who would have had any difficulty turning the same levels of intimidation and violence onto anybody who intervened in there private world of abuse. I look forward to seeing them convicted, in the meantime vigilance has to be continued and QCC is not up to that job.

Akelamalu said...

It's always the case isn't it - a bad minority give the majority a bad name. I'm glad C's carers are not in the bad minority.

Samantha Anne Hutchinson said...

I'm so pleased I found your blog Casdok. This is such a sad subject that needs to be investigated fully. Thank you for highlighting it.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I know from experience, press and research on the studies showing 80%+ of care homes have multiple reported abuse from workers. Right now, under care from two agencies, it is clear one used the model of money, management and then workers are to accomodated (as needed) while what happens to 'clients' will include bad or absent care without incedent. I found this out the FIRST time a worker put me in recovery for several days and I wanted action - the resulting action was...the manager saying I had to sign a waiver saying what workers did wasn't liable or I would not get care. Often good workers are left staying to try and care for clients under a bad corporate attitude and a bad care facility attitude (like having a bad day so you push the buttons on a client in order to put them in four point restraint - 'If I feel crap why shouldn't they' (that was taken from a Texas caregiving online journal)).

The other person says she would rather beg on the street than work at the care provider for town. She is on loan from another provider and 'lets' me leave the apartment, and actually helps me, works with me to improve my day. The job satisfaction is evident.

I wish people didn't see care as a 'anyone can do it' job but rather a vocation or a training where like other serious jobs, you have someones mental and physical well being in your hands. I also wish care giving was given greater esteem than it currently gets.

Unknown said...

Poignantly shared and well said!

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick