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Old people being mistreated in their own homes

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medlar Wed 23-Nov-11 10:00:06

There's another report about old people being mistreated today

These stories seem to follow one another with depressing regularity - first hospitals, then care homes, now human rights abuses in your own home.

If this were children there would be an outcry - quite rightly. Is it me, or is it that no one wants to think about the elderly?

JessM Wed 23-Nov-11 10:16:22

As a counterpoint to this, I was talking to DMIL yesterday about the high staff turnover in the carers that come to her.
They have to provide their own cars.
Guess how much they get paid per mile... 10p
(Most office workers are getting over 40p these days, and are complaining it is not enough)
If their cars are off the road they can't work and can't earn.
Small wonder they are all trying to get jobs in care homes!

The common thread here is that both oldest and youngest are cared for by people (mostly women) with fairly low levels of training/education and pay.
Society's priorities and the exploitation of women rule, OK.

jingl Wed 23-Nov-11 10:21:34

It's ridiculous that the carers are only allowed to give 15 minutes to each visit. (as was stated on Today Prog)

How can that be enough time?

supernana Wed 23-Nov-11 12:09:34

Elderly people are regarded [by some] as being child-like but not necessarily "cute"...and that's why I'm willing to undergo invasive surgery in the hope that, a few years down the line, when I shall be far from "cute" and in need of assistance I may be better able to cope/wash/dress/feed myself. If not, I shall go for a long midnight swim in the ocean...

greenmossgiel Wed 23-Nov-11 15:45:45

I hope that day never comes for you, supernana. I would like to end my days in my own home, but not with uncaring people who I don't know looking after me -isn't that what we'd all want? What an ending to a life where the person has probably fought in wars, fought to feed their children adequately and laughed and had fun - so many 'carers' do not take this into account. In any decent caring establishment correct and appropriate training is given before the 'carer' can do the job. However, behind the closed doors of an older person's home, or even in an actual establishment, this training can be disregarded. sadangry

supernana Wed 23-Nov-11 16:35:55

greenmossgiel I would so love to live in a happy, peaceful, caring community of like-minded elderly persons. We could all have our own "patch" and be as busy or laid-back as we wish. Whenever a member needed assistance, he/she would know that the able-bodied are happy to help. I've got my eyes on a few GN - just in

Carol Wed 23-Nov-11 16:50:13

Good idea supernana we could colonise a little community and make our own arrangments for how we receive care. Grey power!

Quiltinggran Wed 23-Nov-11 16:57:55

A brilliant idea supernana It sounds ideal. A couple of friends and I have talked about doing something similar but have never got beyond the "wouldn't that be a great idea" stage!

supernana Wed 23-Nov-11 17:01:59

Carol and Quiltinggran...keep in touch. You never know...xx

Quiltinggran Wed 23-Nov-11 17:03:57

Will do, supernana xx

JessM Wed 23-Nov-11 17:20:07

MMM - I was just having similar thoughts on the i hate xmas thread about gransnet...

greenmossgiel Wed 23-Nov-11 17:59:01

What a good idea! We could have our own 'commune'! I would happily do my bit for that! smile

Gally Wed 23-Nov-11 18:16:32

Can I book a place too please? grin

jingl Wed 23-Nov-11 18:26:20

They were just talking about these people on Radio 2.

jingl Wed 23-Nov-11 18:35:27

And Abbeyfield are offering free meals or even an overnight stay at their homes for any old people who may be alone at Christmas.

Faye Wed 23-Nov-11 20:15:23

My eldest sister, my brother and I had to step up and take over our mother's care as she became increasingly ill and frail in this last year. My mother was being abused in her own home by my second sister. I have written about it on Gransnet previously.

Now that my mother is in the final stages of her life, the doctor yesterday said Mum probably only has about two weeks to live. We know for us, we have done the right thing by not leaving her care up to others. My brother has also been at hand and helped. In the last four months my mother has lived at my sister's house and they have also been able to get as much help as possible, some of which is supplied by the government. (Showering, cleaner, special food etc).

It's not always easy to look after an elderly person, but pulling together has worked for us and especially my mother. Also my sister's house is very old, which my mother loves. The town is old and interesting and the surrounding countryside is lovely so my mother has enjoyed as much as she could in the circumstances, staying with my sister who has taken Mum out as much as possible. Mum also asked my sister to phone the second sister as she would like to see her. I think the circumstances in which a person passes on often determines how those left behind cope with the grieving process.

em Wed 23-Nov-11 20:32:43

Faye you are now in the position that my sister and I were in nearly 4 years ago. We looked after Mum at her home until she had to go into hospital for treatment for an acute chest infection. She had COPD and really there wasn't much the hospital could do for her. She was quite well treated in hospital but for the 4 days she was there, was utterly miserable. So we took her home. She was totally compos mentis and insisted on signing the form that said she was discharging herself against doctor's advice. She had established that they couldn't do any more for her than we could at home. (With her GP's help, we'd set up the system to have oxygen cylinders supplied and had been shown how to administer it as needed). We took her home on Thursday and spent a pleasant, relaxed afternoon as she relished being in her own room. On Friday she seemed more confused but enjoyed a visit from all the grandchildren. On Friday evening my sister and I, with our sons, sat on her bed and held her hand as she slipped away. I am so pleased we could do that for her and my own children have assured me that they will do their utmost to see me off in the same quietly contented way. Things may be difficult for you in the next week or two but stay with it. You and your sister seem absolutely able to cope and in years ahead you'll be able to say, in all honesty, that you did your best for your mum.

Carol Wed 23-Nov-11 21:08:10

Such lovely memories for you and your family em. That would be my ideal way to leave this world, in such a peaceful and comforting way thanks

gracesmum Wed 23-Nov-11 21:40:21

It helps if other family members are willing to share in this important care. My sister lives in Canada and the "burden" fell very much on me at 350 miles away to organise care and visit every half term/school holiday, even weekends when I would drive up on Friday (accommodating Head) stay saturday and drive home on Sunday. Sadly, at the last although my sister had actually flown back from Canada and was with me and my father when he died, she did not feel abe to stay and be with me for the funeral, leaving me to do all the aranging alone. Alone was very much how I felt too, especially when I took 2 urns of parents' ashes to the cemetery and buried them on my own.
On a more cheerful note, when our beloved labrador had to be put to sleep, it was handled very tactfully and caringly by our vet and Islay went to sleep in the arms of the person she loved and trusted most in the world. On coming home, I told DD how peaceful an end the dog had had and said one could not wish for better oneself. "Well Mum, when the time comes and you feel ready, just let me know and I'll pop you over to the vets"

Sbagran Wed 23-Nov-11 22:59:39

Faye my thoughts and prayers are with you over what will be a difficult time. It is great that your brother and sister are rallying around you. My brothers were the complete opposite when our mother was going downhill - long story and not for now.
However my dear husband rallied around and supported her and me - Mum often said that he was more of a son than son-in-law. She was in a wonderful care home - we saw her regularly, taking her out in the car etc and generally 'seeing her right'.
Her final couple of weeks were calm and comfortable thanks to the dedication of the care home staff, her wonderful GP controlling the pain so perfectly (she had the big C) that she was comfortable but 'with it'.
On the afternoon she died DH and I had been sat with her for nearly three hours. She was totally relaxed, occasionally opening her eyes and having a sip of drink. Her favourite hymns CD played quietly in the background. We knew she was likely to go sometime in the next few days and we knew she was ready to go spiritually, physically and emotionally.
We decided to take a break and get something to eat. We planned to ring the home that evening and if necessary go back across or return again the next day depending on their advice - they were brilliant in caring for us as well as Mum. As we prepared to go something said to me "Don't kiss her goodbye, don't disturb her, she is totally relaxed and at peace" so we crept away blowing a kiss from the doorway.
We hadn't been home more than 5 minutes when the home rang to say she had gone. We went straight back over and she was in the exact same relaxed and peaceful position - the only difference was that obviously she was not breathing - her CD was still playing and as we went back into the room it was playing the hymn 'Going home'
It breaks my heart when I hear of elderly abuse and am so thankful that Mum had none of that. My brothers didn't care but we did. The care staff were wonderful. Her death was so calm and peaceful the only way to describe it is 'beautiful' as she had obviously just slipped away with no trauma or distress.
It really helps the grieving process when someone dies like that. We miss her so much - it was two years ago last week - but we cannot be sad for her and I really hope Faye that when the time comes it may be as beautiful as was the case with my darling Mum.
Keep up the good work my love and remember we are all here for you. God bless.

harrigran Wed 23-Nov-11 23:49:43

Faye my thoughts are with you.

Carol Thu 24-Nov-11 10:57:28

Geraldine's article is interesting. Maybe we could raise the profile about ageism, and even get a culture shift. So many other countries regard the elderly as wise and to be venerated.

Carol Thu 24-Nov-11 10:58:48

Here's the link to Geraldine's article

Annobel Thu 24-Nov-11 11:44:09

Well said, Geraldine. I've put the link on my Facebook page.

susiecb Thu 24-Nov-11 11:45:39

I was a District Nurse for a very long time and managed a large community nursing service (160 staff) the stories we could tell about home carers beggars belief. We reported and reported every incident we had seen and very little changed as its so hard to provide evidence. I have recently had to arrange some further support for my MIL and have done this through Age UK who are wonderful and monitor their staff very closely so I do recommend them. As monitoring is so difficult perhaps we have to go down the route some parents have taken with childcare i.e. security cameras for our loved ones.

Faye Thu 24-Nov-11 12:27:30

Thank you for your support. It seems that most of us are in the same boat, doing the best that we can for our parents and hoping their passing is peaceful and pain free.

Butternut Thu 24-Nov-11 13:02:31

I've avoided this thread because it is a subject that I find difficult to address, but here goes, because I really do think that the whole issue of abuse of the elderly and the future care of the elderly - needs to be continuously highlighted.

Actual abuse of the elderly is disgusting, but this is not what I want to write about here. What I want to identify is the '*consistent lack of support, understanding and CARE*' the elderly receive, not only in nursing homes, but in society as a whole. Depression is rife and little is done to alleviate this.

My dear Mum, who'd had a tough life, suffered several strokes, leaving her considerably disabled for the last 5 years of her life. She spent that time in a small nursing home - no more than 12 stayed there - and it didn't 'smell' - which in my book gave it a good tick. Highly independent, she strove to do as much for herself as possible. Yet it was the little things, the little everyday issues that we'd all be faced with, which caused her distress, and so easy to change.

When she said she wanted fruit, she'd be given an apple and a knife. She couldn't do anything with it because of her disability.

When she called for assistance in the night to visit the toilet, she was put in an adult nappy. All she needed was support to get to the loo. Nothing wrong with her brain nor her bladder control.

She often wore clothes that weren't her's, and saw other's wearing what belonged to her - lazy laundry practice.

Left in the bath too long, until the water was cold. Unable to get to the bell.
Not deliberate. Understaffed.

Being forced to join in with 'exercise' - having her arms and legs moved, when she'd clearly expressed her dislike of the whole performance and wanted to be in her room. Thoughtless.

Rough cleaning of teeth - if at all. Careless.

The tip of the iceberg.

I think it is this drip, drip, drip of the casual lack of insight, understanding, care and compassion that is sorely lacking.

I remember always been concerned about complaining like mad and risking her care being adversely affected.

It was through Mum that I then decided to look into depression of the elderly and worked in that area, alongside my 'day job'. I was clear that those in dreadful situations should be able to find their voice.

Thank you for listening to mine.

Carol Thu 24-Nov-11 13:29:10

Butternut you've voiced what many of us think about the care system for the elderly. Basic dignity and compassion will see us through when resources are short. After all, so many elderly people have lived theough severe deprivation in the war years, and do not regard living a frugal life as being difficult, but the thought of being treated dispassionately is too awful to contemplate. Thanks for sharing your views x

Butternut Thu 24-Nov-11 14:08:46

Thanks, Carol, for wading through my v. long post! smile

Faye Thu 24-Nov-11 16:26:29

Butternut thanks A bit more compassion and common sense would have made a difference to your mother's well being.

Faye Thu 24-Nov-11 17:54:31

I might add that you would have been in a quandary Butternut whether to complain and would that have made things worse for your mother.

I think there needs to be something done about the way the elderly are treated. It seems to me that it is just a money making business and the best way to make a profit is not to have enough staff and not pay for enough training. When my mother was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer they decided that she was too frail to have chemotherapy or an operation. They said that radiation would be the way to go. She was then transported back from the large hospital by ambulance to the smaller hospital where she was staying. My eldest sister was with her and my mother was exhausted and most probably in a daze because the specialist had told my mother when my sister was not in the room that she had cancer. Apparently he has done that before and his staff were trying to get my sister to get back to the consulting room so my mother was not on her own. My sister had gone to get them a drink as it had been a long day.

The next day I took my D2 who was pregnant and has a small son to the hospital to see her grandmother. My daughter who had been sick in hospital herself had made the six hour trip by bus just to see her grandmother. When we got there my mother wasn't in her room and the staff were not sure why she had been taken away. My mother had been transported back to the large hospital by ambulance on her own. The reason they said was they were looking into seeing if she could have chemotherapy (which they had decided against the day before). One of the staff also thought it was a good time while my frail, elderly mother was on her own to tell her she had three months to live. I believe it was just another excuse for an appointment which makes the consultant more money. This was not the first time that she has had appointments made that were unnecessary. My sister then finally got Mum back to her home in the country. My mother then got a letter as they wanted her to come back to the hospital again to discuss if she should have chemotherapy or an operation. A three hour drive with an elderly sick woman for them to again discuss whether she should have chemotherapy. My sister then discussed it with her doctor and she said not to bother.

Sorry this is long and I have said this before....but reading some of these posts is upsetting. Why are there so many uncaring people working with vulnerable people?

Gally Thu 24-Nov-11 17:56:00

So moving to read all these testimonies.
When my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, I moved 500 miles south to be with him for the last 5 weeks of his life - it was that quick. I had no help, apart from a visit from a MacMillan nurse who I thought was going to give me a lot of help - in fact she gave me a form to fill in for an attendance allowance which he didn't need, and offered the loan of a commode and a walking frame both of which I had acquired from the Red X myself. With the occasional help from his neighbour when he fell, Dad and I plodded on until I felt I couldn't cope any more and managed to get him into a private nursing home where he had the care he deserved during his final week. I felt bitterly let down by the 'system' although I was so happy to have spent that time with him and got to know the Dad I had never discovered before. My only regret was that he was alone when he died, but knowing him, it was what he probably wanted as he was a very private man.
I think Gracesmum's daughter has the right idea - I think the vet is the place for me to go when the time comes!!

Butternut Thu 24-Nov-11 19:09:23

Faye - I'm sorry to learn of your Mother's distressing time, and your's Gally, too, although pleased you found time to be with your Father.
Isn't it astonishing that 'the system' often fails to provide consistency in care.

I do think there is still some very good 'practice' around, but it is all so arbitrary.

Education and training are paramount. However that is of course always ham-strung by financial constraints, implemented not only by the government but by private care homes, whose main concern is to make a profit. The turn-over of staff in these businesses tells it's own tale.

I could go on.........I find I am sad and angry in turns about this whole issue.

gracesmum Thu 24-Nov-11 19:21:42

This is all extremely distressing, but at the risk of sounding selfish - what can we do for our future?

Carol Thu 24-Nov-11 19:33:51

We can all do our bit to lobby for ageism to be eradicated, and muster strength by numbers with Gransnet. We'll have as big a voice as Mumsnet if we continue like this.

Sbagran Thu 24-Nov-11 20:00:01

Faye I have sent you a personal message but according to my sent box it looks like it went twice! Blame it on technology! I am thinking of you and send a ((((big hug)))) thanks

Ariadne Thu 24-Nov-11 20:49:36

Some of the issues here, and the need to have a voice are being expressed on the "conference" thread.

It is very clear that we could be a force to be reckoned with.

I have been in tears as I read these posts.

goldengirl Thu 24-Nov-11 21:53:23

reading these disturbing stories has made my blood run cold - and boil! If the two can work together at the same time. I was so lucky with my mother's carers. Mind you she wouldn't let them do much so they sat and talked to her until they moved on to their next client. Dad wasn't so lucky. The respite home he was in closed because the owner couldn't afford to make the changes to the door widths etc brought in by legislation. None of the residents was concerned but never mind them eh? The doors weren't the exact dimensions so cheerio folks, just move elsewhere and sorry, mate, you can't run the home any more even though the old dears were happy there with their home made food. The residential home he had to move to (a) because he refused to leave his home town as he wanted to die there and (b) there was nowhere else that mum could get to to visit him - andI lived 200 miles away - was, like many others, well meaning but short staffed. I felt they did their best but the residents seem drugged to the hilt with the telly on in the corner. They tried to interest Dad in various things but he just gave up and died within 6 weeks of being there.
Does anyone know if a Council's accounts are public information? I'd love to know what they spend their money on. How do they prioritise the needs of the community? How are private nursing homes regulated - hardly at all by the sound of it, yet our business gets inspected quarterly and woe betide us if our processes don't pass muster. I'm horrified that there is no protection for the elderly. With an ageing population perhaps this is where our focus should be?

Carol Thu 24-Nov-11 22:23:27

You can request information from the council under the Freedom of Information Act. You have to apply in writing and they must acknowledge your request in writing with a certain number of days, then supply the info you require, again within a time limit. Information that needs to be kept secure, or that contains names other than the person you enquire about are blocked out (shouldn't apply in your case).

fieldwake Fri 25-Nov-11 13:07:29

When u get old you are not a priority. My daughter did care for a week. The 'jobs' were far and wide from 7am to 11pm with lots of driving in her own car. There were long gaps in day. Most visits were far too short and not time to do the necessary or no 2nd person to hoist etc. it was heart breaking. Impossible to do on money and fit round young children. She doesn't want to live old and thinks of all those isolated people. Shame on the government.

It takes a village to raise a child/look after a person who is now elderly. Natures ratio is mostly adults with a few babies and elderly. Industrialisation when work was taken out of the home and our society now segregates us by age. How do we re-create the 'village'? Women are starting businesses from home the old cottage industry that means you can be there for your children.

Annobel Fri 25-Nov-11 13:38:32

'How do we re-create the village?' Now there's a good question!
'How do we re-create the extended family?' There's another.

goldengirl Fri 25-Nov-11 13:54:58

Thanks Carol that's helpful.
A 'community' has been built on the other side of our town. It has a school and a community centre on the same site but for those on the far side of this community there is nothing but houses - no corner shop, no nothing except for small play areas. You either have to wait for a bus or take your car if you want to shop because that is quite some distance away. It was an opportunity missed I think. Grant Shapps talks about having more housing but there needs to be a centre of some sort to make it into a community. When the children were small I used to live in a cul de sac and there were many young families there and we used to look out for each other and the children who, because of the lack of traffic, could play safely outside. Now the families there have grown up and many of the houses have been divided up and let and there are umpteen cars parked making it unsafe for any outside communal play and with a resulting change in atmosphere.
It's all down to planning but unfortunately many of the planners are men who haven't had the experience of being at home day after day with small children - and perhaps that applies to many women these days too.

nan Fri 25-Nov-11 16:14:31

the ever increasing pressures of age

I have worked in homes for the care of others, it was a long time ago now, at first it was ok, i went into it with great ideas, even took my kids on odd times when i couldnt get a babysitter, those days were really good, the children made the folk there smile, and the folk there made the children smile, after a while though i was told to stop taking the children in, it wasnt appropriate or something, after that the job just got more and more demanding, i started to see things i found revoulting, when i pointed them out i was told to shut up... eventually i walked out and reported the homes, nothing much got done really, even though one resident was assaulted!

i do look after my mum, in a fashion, we still have a couple issues, but were working on them slowly, mum can still manage to live alone as yet, but were having to visit more often and do more things, but thats ok we share it around a bit, she has had help in before but i guess it wasnt for her, not all the help she got was good, even though it looked that way for a while, i think shes happier with what were doing now, mum is a tad difficult to help at times, she gets very antsy when you try to do too much, but i would rather this than put her in the care of any of the homes or systems we have right now, i dont see many changes in most of them from when i was working there, although there are some that have got all the balances right

Grannylin Sat 26-Nov-11 12:03:51

I've just done a 700 mile round trip to Cumbria to help my sister move my Mum into a local authority care home. The sense of relief, particularly for my sister, her chief carer, has been enormous.We have been so lucky to finally get her into a wonderful happy,caring,local home where she has had periods of respite over the last year. She has increasing dementia but the biggest problem has been her weight, not a frail old lady but a huge 18 stone!She has had countless, unknown carers coming in twice a day, recently, when my sister could no longer risk being flattened in the shower. However, she started to lock them out.The main worry has been her falling at night and not knowing whether she would use her alert button round her neck ....she has been constantly complaining that no-one has been ringing her up on it! Such a relief to know she is finally safe.

ninathenana Sat 26-Nov-11 12:10:20

mum suffers from dementia and has carers 3 times a day.
Her breakfast visit last 40mins. During this time her carer is expected to shower her, help her dress, prepare and ensure she eats breakfast and administer her drugs. Her lunch and evening visit are 20 mins each.

I have nothing but praise for her carers. But for this 80mins a day the bill will increase by £52 a month starting in December. (shock) (angry)

goldengirl Sat 26-Nov-11 12:11:32

That's such good news for you Grannylin. I can imagine your relief. It was a battle for me too o ensure that mum wore her alert button - it took ages - but paid off in the end when she fell whilst actually wearing it. I can't recommend the alert button enough - but of course it has to be worn ALL the time! Not always an easy task - mainly because of supposed pride I think

Elegran Fri 16-Mar-12 08:59:28

Another headline about carers with no time to care

Elegran Fri 16-Mar-12 09:00:53

Sorry, forgot to blue it.

Another headline about carers with no time to care

glammanana Fri 16-Mar-12 09:32:55

Don't the carer's have managers who check that the care is being given correctly,in our local newspaper there are countless positions for carers doing variious shifts "no experience required" why are they allowed to get away with this ?

Annobel Fri 16-Mar-12 09:48:44

A relative interviewed on the radio said that when he complained to the carers' agency, he was told to go to another agency. That's caring!

Oxon70 Fri 16-Mar-12 10:05:29

I just caught the end of an interview with Esther Rantzen on TV where she was saying she was setting up a phone line for old people in a bad situation...anyone know any more?

Annobel Fri 16-Mar-12 10:14:31

I heard that too, but don't think anything had been arranged yet. A kind of geriatric Childline?

Elegran Fri 16-Mar-12 10:18:26

Fifteen minutes per patient is not long enough to do anything at all. No wonder the agencies are always looking for more staff. They must spend more time traveling from one house to another that they do actually "caring" for anyone. No job satisfaction there.

Annobel Fri 16-Mar-12 10:22:47

No, there is little job satisfaction for these 'carers'. A friend's GD has been taken on by an agency and does not receive travelling expenses for driving between clients, although a clean driving licence is a prerequisite for the job. Carers are being exploited as are the clients.

nightowl Fri 16-Mar-12 14:19:31

Carers are definitely being exploited and as others have said they are generally women who have few employment choices and other family commitments to take into account. I share an office with local authority homecare managers and see many of the carers when they come in to consult these managers. The carers are all struggling with the time limits imposed on their visits, but to add insult to injury they have to spend a ridiculous amount of time filling in timesheets for each individual service user, which is obviously time that would be better spent providing care. The authority has now introduced yet another system whereby the carers have to log in at each address using a complicated PIN number system linked to their mobile phones, and then log out when they leave. Given the numbers of people they visit in a day this adds up to a significant amount of time spent on admin tasks. So are the managers interested in whether the care provided has been good bad or indifferent? Not unless a complaint is made. The overriding concern of senior managers is that costs should be kept down and low paid workers who are trying to do their best for their clients should not be seen to waste a moment of the authority's time. It makes me despair.

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