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Care homes

(22 Posts)
Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 08:48:09

"Data on Covid care home deaths kept secret to promote commercial interests " Robert Booth Guardian Online exclusive 27 August 2020.
Apologies for not providing a direct link but I couldnt get one to work. A google search will easily find the article.
The gist of it is that the number of deaths due to Coronavirus in individual care homes will not be revealed. It is feared that revealing the figures could undermine the UK Care system which is mainly privately operated. Many have lost income both due to deaths of residents and peoples reluctance to go into care homes.
Of course the implication is that if care homes close,which is a real possibility there will be nowhere for older people who need care to go. "Bed blocking" was a massive issue before Coronavirus. The issue was resolved at the beginning of the pandemic by government throwing money at care homes to buy empty beds for hospital patients to be discharged to. I think we all know the tragedy that resulted in. So if we do have the second wave there is a risk there will be nowhere for people in hospital to go.
CQC support the withholding of which care homes have had deaths from Coronavirus.
There are some very good care homes out there,really excellent ones and many very devoted carers.
There are also some you wouldnt leave a pet in.
The majority of care homes are privately operated. Some are small individual homes. There are however a large number of chains. Often these are faceless organisations based outside the UK where profit is priority for shareholders. A bit of digging around and I was quite shocked to find the care home company my daughter works for also owns Pret and Pizza Express to name a few.
There has been lots of debate about care home providers not buying PPE during the crisis. To be honest it simply wasnt available however much they were willing to pay. What was available was redirected to NHS.
Managers of care homes were heavily pressurised to admit patients from hospitals with no or delayed test results. My daughters manager refused unless they had the test result before admission. She was threatened with disciplinary action but stood her ground and remained Covid free. They are part of a large group but staff and residents have been tested weekly/monthly and they do not use agency staff.
The care home I (on paper ) work for went very wrong somewhere. A third of the residents died. The majority of staff who were there during that month have no left. Its changing its name soon. It's also changed its functionality so the majority of residents left will move. As with all care homes no visitors have been inside since March. When they do return I'm sure any questions about missing residents could be met with either I wasnt working here or a vague they have moved on.
I am at high risk due to medical issues. I would feel reasonably safe working in my daughters workplace. I do not intend to set foot again in mine. They have proved dishonest and untrustworthy since the pandemic began. I'm currently working with my Union to get any pay I'm owed.
As for the residents who died I feel they have just been erased.
Without transparency how can people make a fair judgement about whether a care home is a safe place for themselves or a loved one? Where mistakes were made how do we know lessons have been learnt and procedures put into place to prevent tens of thousands of deaths happening again this winter?
Is anyone ever going to be held accountable? I must admit in my darker moments I do wonder if other than those immediately involved anybody actually cares.
It appears that globally the way we support our most vulnerable members of society has resulted in unbelievable suffering and death. Much of this could have been lessened or prevented if we treated those in receipt of care and those who care for them as an asset. I cant help but wonder what it will take to enforce change.

annsixty Fri 28-Aug-20 09:29:40

My H died in April 2019 after 4 months in a care home, I could no longer care for him at home after looking after him for years.
He had dementia and then a severe stroke, I was 81 and my own health was suffering.
I have thanked God every day since Covid reared it’s head that he did not have to live through these last months.
To think of them all shut in their rooms, most very small, for 24 hours a day, no visitors, staff rushed off their feet and probably strange faces constantly fills me with horror.
Thank you for raising this, the future is very bleak for residents and staff alike.

Whitewavemark2 Fri 28-Aug-20 10:07:30

It seems that profit must come before individual lives.

I hate what this country has become.

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 10:46:15

An sixty I'm so sorry to hear about your husbands death. I think as relatives/ friends we have to place such tremendous trust in those who provide care for are loved ones.
I've worked in health and social care my whole life,mainly for the local council. As my parents aged their health became more complex. Mum was physically unwell with severe leg ulcers .After a mini stroke dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2010. They remained in their own home with carers popping in and myself doing shopping etc until mums death in 2014. I remember when they were first offered a care package they were not keen but I encouraged them to take it as it may not be there in the future. Indeed it wasnt,the amount of support services that just disappeared was incredible over those four years. Home care was variable with the council changing care company at least three times. On one occasion the care company just shut leaving clients high and dry for 24 hours. On mums death dad moved in with me. Initially he was going to continue going to the day centre whilst I worked 2 days a week but it wasnt financially viable and he didnt really like the day centre anyway so I gave up work to be a full time carer. It worked well as he was still mobile and although the dementia increased he was always very amiable so all in all we had a lovely year or so. Then he had a bit of a funny turn and ended up in hospital for 8 weeks. It was down to an infection and nearly died twice. He came home but lost his mobility and dementia had worsened. His original care package had stopped and it took an awful lot of hassle to get one back. In the end the care company he had before returned but the only way it could be done was if I was the second carer and helped with the 4 care visits a day with hoisting etc. Even then it was costing £1000 a month. I was only in my mid 50s but after two months was on my knees! He died shortly after and I still felt incredibly guilty.
After a short while off I found a job in a care home as a support worker. Rather than a 12 hour shift of personal care I did 1.1 work. I was over qualified for the job but didnt want the responsibility of managing staff. I think both myself and my youngest daughter wanted to be the sort of staff we would have hoped would work with our parents. We also feel very strongly about supporting relatives as we know how hard it is.
I must admit that I was on the whole impressed by the tremendous dedication and love shown by the carers. Such a contrast to working for the council though. No protection whatsoever. If I still worked for the council I would have been working from home on full pay for foreseeable future. Private care homes,no sick pay unless longer than a week. Barely above minimum wage. Most of the staff worked 48hours plus a week just to survive. Gruelling 12 hour shifts with 30mins paid lunch and two 15 minute unpaid breaks. Often understaffed and so it was a relentless cycle of hoisting, personal care,supporting with fluids and food,coping with challenging behaviour. Yet it was done with love and dignity and respect and all the residents were well cared for. The pandemic hit. I try not to imagine what it was like there. I knew it was unsafe for me personally but also that the majority of staff there were not high risk. The majority have left including the manager. The management remaining are extremely unhelpful with regards to my role such as risk assessments,alternative roles. I'm just a number. I wont go back.
I too am glad my parents are not alive during this pandemic. If they had been in receipt of home care I would have been frantic with worry about the potential for infection.
Those in care homes who survived have been through a terrible ordeal. They have been isolated from loved ones and activities and socialising. It must be frightening for those with dementia to see staff faces hidden behind masks. Care homes are trying hard,well some are. My daughters care home frequently posts photos on FB of activities and things they are doing whether it be entertainment in the garden, or special meals and celebrations. My care home hasn't put anything up since March, well aside from how wonderful they are and adverts for new residents😢.
There needs to be transparency. By hiding deaths I would think public distrust will just increase. I'm saddened by CQCs agreement. The only hope potential carers/ residents have is to look at a care homes rating on there website.
Care homes are given advance notice of inspection so if even with that they are rated anything less than good in all areas be very cautious.
There are so many concerns at the moment,schools opening,employment,the economy the plight of the most vulnerable seems to be swept to one side. Let's hope it's not a continuing issue. As someone once said you can judge a society by how it treats it's most vulnerable members. I for one am hanging my head in shame.

Hetty58 Fri 28-Aug-20 10:58:31

The care sector was already in great difficulty, in decline before the pandemic. The future is seen as 'care at home' (whatever that may be - if it's like 'care in the community' we're in deep trouble).

It is utterly shameful that people were sent from hospitals into care homes without testing. With the shortage of available (and adequate) PPE, it was a recipe for disaster.

Our government had a duty to protect vulnerable people in an emergency and it so clearly and obviously failed to do so.

Now, the attempted cover-up of death statistics is pretty much what we'd expect. With so many care homes, the day to day (especially nightly) neglect, economies and shortcomings are masked by a veneer of appearances, positive images, the after lunch 'happy hour' entertainments.

Visitors just don't see the anguish of dedicated staff, working long hours with maybe 15 minutes to wash, change, dress a person, the budgeting (penny pinching, corner cutting) the utter hopeless, helpless, depressed existence of the inmates.

As my mother said (in her 'luxury' BUPA home) 'What's the point of being washed, dressed, fed and tormented? It's not living!'

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 11:05:33

So do I Whitewavemark2. As austerity has ripped services away each year has felt cruellest. The past few months have felt so ruthless even I am shocked!
Aside from care homes those that were shielded but who work have been pretty much thrown to the wolves if they work. Those who are lucky may be able to work from home. If that's not possible the onus on them is to prove it's not safe,and the only way you can do that is to be in an unsafe environment. According to risk assessments I'm borderline shielding. According to my employer it's safe to be in an environment where I'm indoors for 12 hours with poor ventilation and cant socially distance. PPE may be there but not the type I would need. They test staff weekly,well those that turn up. They still use agency staff. The government tells me to minimize social activities outside my household. Proving the work environment is unsafe means I have to be in it. Madness. I'm lucky I have a small amount of savings and no mortgage. I know many who are not. One of them is a diabetic teaching assistant. He has tried desperately to find guidance all summer. Some things are in place but not enough. Hes terrified. Financially he has to work. He returns next week but has made sure his affairs are in order,including his will.

Hetty58 Fri 28-Aug-20 11:19:48

Dorsetcupcake61, I can't help thinking, after the first batch of Covid deaths (elderly, frail, infirm and vulnerable) here we go with the second (high risk, but forced back to work) - like lambs to the slaughter.

Somebody, somewhere in government, is gleefully calculating all the savings in pension and disability payments!

Furret Fri 28-Aug-20 11:25:19

Hetty a lot of truth in that. I honestly think the government, and certain other sections of the populace, really don’t give a damn about the old, the frail, the vulnerable, the disabled, etc.

It’s a ‘me, me, me’ society.

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 11:30:01

Totally agree Hetty58. Life can be made positive and meaningful but it requires time and money. Most care homes have activities staff,but they do vary. I have been part of the activities team. My pet hate is how it all seems to end up like nursery school with colouring or flaming easter bonnets! So darn patronising. It's often about being seen to provide activities rather than what activities residents want. It is difficult as you have a widely different group of people. In one job I was always being moaned at in activities as I would do a large group activity and then focus on individual work which was so beneficial. All most residents want is someone to spend time with them and value them as a person rather than a task to be done(even if lovingly). That's why my current role was unique. It was aimed at carers under 18 who couldn't do personal care. So idea was chat to residents, support with fluids etc. I was almost immediately moved to 1.1s but if they had visitors I was free to mingle where needed.
Even in the most luxurious care home people can get depressed and feel there is little point to life. There are things that can be done to help people feel more in control of their lives and environment. Residents commitees where their requests and concerns are genuinely listened to and acted on. Encouraging people to maintain skills and community contact. Theres so much can be done but so little effort other than the odd token gesture. These things take time. Time is money. Certainly if cant get staff for basics the rest isnt going to happen. It would take a massive effort and willingness to change. We seem to have gone from the traditional concept of care homes that I grew up with to residents being viewed as a commodity. I must admit at the onset of the pandemic I thought residents would be protected. If for no other reason than if a resident dies the company loses at least £50thousand a year☹.

HootyMcOwlface Fri 28-Aug-20 11:40:38

Link to article in Guardian if you would like to read.

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 11:44:32

Totally agree with you Hetty and Furret. Initially I did put it down to incompetence. In some ways it is. More recently I'm thinking noone can be that stupid. The alternative however is at best a survival of the fittest and at worst a form of social cleansing. I know there have often been comments that this is governments way of of reducing care/ benefits bill. They did indeed say they would sort social care out once and for all. I'm not sure eliminating those in need of it is what people voted for!
Maybe I'm just impatient. It does however feel the issue is being ignored. Its terrifying with the prospect of a winter and potential second wave ahead. You would think lessons would have been learned and the past few months used to prepare. That doesnt appear to be the case with schools. I think I'm always hoping for some decisive action from the government that just doesn't appear. I do wonder what it will take for people to take notice. I wouldnt wish this virus on anyone. One of the few blessings is that although I am high risk my childeren and grandchilderen so far appear not to be. I do sometimes wonder if it would have been handled differently if it only affected the under 40s though.

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 11:45:54

Thankyou HootymcOwlface😊

annsixty Fri 28-Aug-20 11:59:38

I am upset, depressed and very angry today.
I have had my own feelings reinforced today and my fears brought to the fore.
I am now 83 and will starve and go unwashed before I go in a care home.
Fortunately I have all "my marbles" intact and a loving GD who lives with me and takes care of me.
Some aren't so blessed.

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 12:17:01

I'm so sorry Annsixty. I did think carefully before posting this thread as I didnt want to cause unnecessary distress to those who have or have previously had relatives in care homes. On the other hand I felt the issue needed highlighting.
Some times at the moment the world seems to be a cruel and uncaring place. I think this pandemic has starkly highlighted inequality in society. Someone once said that society only changes through war and pandemic. There is hope and tremendous love and kindness in the world. I also have great faith in younger people,many of whom do care about the world and the people who live in it. I sometimes wish I didnt have a social science/social care background, ignorance does sometimes feel like it could be bliss. Sometimes we need to step back however much we care about the plight of others and as you have feel thankful and lucky. Once again apologies if this thread has upset you. Sending 💐 and a virtual hug and wishes for a happier afternoon.

sodapop Fri 28-Aug-20 12:28:04

Luckygirl mentioned this on another thread some time ago and I agree with her
When Care Homes were run by the Local Authority they were well run, staff had all the relevant training and the resident/carer ratio was usually more than adequate. Things went downhill when Care Homes were privatised. Of course there are some excellent private establishments but sadly they are the exception not the rule.

annsixty Fri 28-Aug-20 12:35:24

Absolutely no need for apologies, you haven't upset me at all, I am no fragile flower I assure you.
Just sad and upset that some people have no alternative and are wracked with

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 13:14:25

Totally agree soda pop. The training given by local councils is second to none,very thorough. I had to do meds training to administer medication at a day centre. Four days with a pharmacist and two hour exam. In private sector usually a half day and get 50p an hour extra. The responsibility is enormous as legally the person administering it is liable even if it's from a blister pack. We used to have 2 staff checking it in and two giving it out! I told my daughter to stay well away.
Training in the private sector very variable. Some dire. My current employers training quite good but we were expected to spend five days 9-4 attending it unpaid. They also threatened to take cost of training out of final salary if left before 6 months!,
There are moves towards a national care qualification which some care homes are more motivated to do than others.
It all just needs totally taking apart and reorganizing . Some small indepent care homes are very good. Some of those belonging to larger groups are. That's the trouble there is very little consistency. It's a viscous circle the job is devalued because of its poor status and pitiful pay and terms and conditions. Improve those and people might view it differently. There needs to be an investment in people rather than viewing residents as cash sums and staff as bodies undertaking tasks. One big difference I noticed was that in private sector I've worked on there was no formal supervision of staff,at all,not even during induction!
I also find the vague ownership of some of these chains of care homes very worrying.

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 13:15:01

I'm glad Annsixty😊

Greeneyedgirl Fri 28-Aug-20 13:29:39

The Care sector was in serious trouble before the Pandemic, so I am not surprised, but still horrified about the terrible death toll that ensued because elderly people were not prioritised and protected.

The CQC have refused to publish the death rates of different homes because according to the Guardian it will undermine the UKs Care system which relies on private operators. In my own area there is currently an outbreak in Care Homes of 13 cases amongst staff and patients.

Unless the Care Sector is adequately funded, and Care Workers are trained and paid a realistic wage, there is no hope of improvement. The government has kicked the can down the road long enough.

There is no way that the care sector can be run on a profit basis.

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 14:44:45

Totally agree greeneyedgirl. 👍

sodapop Fri 28-Aug-20 14:49:46

Time the CQC was disbanded, they have been conspicuous by their silence in all of this. Even before the pandemic they seemed to have very little authority over private care homes. Another useless Government body.

Dorsetcupcake61 Fri 28-Aug-20 15:11:49

I agree SodaPop they only act when a situation is totally desperate. They have been noticeable only by their absence during this crisis and their latest stance is despicable. Wonder who is their Chief? Not sure I want to know actually ☹