Posted on 10/08/2017 by David Burgess
The CQC recently found one in four adult social care services unsafe
Elderly care home residents are being dressed in other people’s clothes and left languishing without exercise for five weeks at a time, a new investigation reveals.
Surprise inspections of nearly 200 institutions found older people living in “filthy” accommodation with rotting plants on the window sills.
The report by Healthwatch, a consumer champion for the health and social care sector, also revealed widespread lack of access to GPs and dentists for care home residents.
Sadly, I’m not at all surprised by these findingsJeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society
Only one of the facilities inspected had been able to secure regular visits from a dentist, and many others reported difficulty in persuading local GPs to attend.
Experts called it a “wakeup call” for the industry and regulators.
While the probe reported some improvements in the sector, Healthwatch said there remains a “worrying culture of apathy” in England’s care homes.
The report comes a month after the Care Quality Commission, the agency responsible for regulating the care homes, revealed that one in four adult social care facilities inspected since 2014 was unsafe.
A resident in Wolverhampton told Healthwatch inspectors: “My laundry is not always returned and is worn by others”.
Another in the same area said she was keen to take part in exercises with other residents in the lounge but, because she needed to be hoisted out of bed, was only able to join in every five weeks.
At one facility in South Tyneside, the budget for activities was just £50 a month.
Imelda Redmond, national director of Healthwatch England, said care homes were grappling with rising demand and stretched resources, but added: “Getting the basics right doesn't have to cost the earth and should be the least we should all be able to expect for our loved ones and ourselves should we need care support."
Other examples of poor practice highlighted in the report include one resident waiting an hour to be taken to the toilet, problems with cleanliness and dilapidated decoration such as peeling wallpaper, and laundry not being returned to the correct person and being worn by other residents.
Particular concerns were raised regarding the suitability of some care homes for residents with Alzheimer’s, such as a lack of dementia-friendly decoration and poor awareness of the condition.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Sadly, I’m not at all surprised by these findings.
“They testify to the existing issues with staff training across the sector, and echo what our investigation last year found - that one in three home-care workers had received absolutely no dementia training, resulting in people with dementia left in soiled sheets, and becoming ill after eating out-of-date food.”
Healthwatch inspectors visited 197 care homes across England between January 2016 and April this year.
The report found many examples of good care but also concluded that in many homes staff were “rushed off their feet” with residents picking up the strain.
Inspections in London care homes triggered fears that much of the training undertaken by staff was not practical, but undertaken online, with a risk that it was not being completed by the staff member themself.
Michael Cranfield, from the British Dental Association, said adequate dentistry was “too often the missing piece in care homes”.
“We keep seeing vulnerable residents with dentures that have never been taken out and managers who admit oral health is at the bottom of their to-do lists,” he said.