Concerns about elderly care?
Posted on: 13 March 2018 by Michelle Hughes
Figures from Age UK make for harrowing reading, approximately 426,000 people are being cared for in the UK in some form of a residential care home, this includes nursing homes.
It is estimated that a staggering 158,000 residents have been victims of some abuse.
It is therefore wholly understandable why the relatives of elderly people in these facilities are so concerned for the well-being and safety of their loved ones. Following a number of well-reported cases, the UK government has been quoted on a petition as saying “ The Government does not object to the use of CCTV cameras in care homes on a case by case basis. Care home owners should consult with and seek the consent of residents and their families on their use.”
A recent survey also showed that 37% of people would consider using a secret camera to record the care of their relative, and who can blame them?
So what can you do?
It is important to understand the difference between negligent care and abuse. Although are both extremely upsetting to watch in legal terms they are very different and should, therefore, be approached in two different ways.
If you have any concerns about the care of an elderly relative your first contact should be the care home manager; each care home has to have a complaints procedure; your concerns should be reported and documented. All care homes are monitored by the Care Quality Commission and have to conform to a minimum standard of care.
If you are unhappy with the response of the care home manager or do not feel your concerns are being addressed, then you should escalate the matter. If the care home is part of a group, this should be addressed to the chief executive.
Make sure you keep records of all the conversations, letters and emails you have sent and of course any evidence of abuse or neglect by members of staff. If you continue to feel the level of care is not up to standard, the next stage would be to escalate your complaint to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
Any legal actions would follow one of two routes, civil or criminal. If you were looking to claim negligence, it would only be appropriate if your elderly relative had suffered harm because of the actions (or lack of) of a professional practitioner. To prove negligence, it is important to show that the practitioner failed in their duty of care. If you think this is the case, it is best to look for a specialist medical negligence lawyer to assess the claim and work with expert witnesses who can help build a case.
However, if your elderly relative has been a victim of physical abuse and assault it is a criminal matter and should be reported to and handled by the police.
It is entirely understandable that you worry about your relatives when they are being looked after in a care home, especially if you don’t live close enough to pop in regularly or your relative has an illness like dementia where they perhaps can’t communicate with you like they used to.
If you have any concerns about the treatment your relative is receiving in a care home, there are many options available to you. If you wish to claim negligence, there are several compensation calculators available to help you see if you have a financial claim. It would be recommended to use a specialist solicitor if you wanted to go down the route of making a claim.