Panorama and care homes

I couldn’t watch this programme. The abuse was horrific. If you don’t know already, it was about physical and emotional abuse delivered by ‘care’ staff in a private hospital to patients with complex learning disability and mental health problems.

Question Time just now is going on about private vs NHS care services. There is no way that a profit making enterprise divorced from the NHS can serve patients better. Setting care homes or units up outwith the NHS means that the communication and learning, support and teaching that is part of the ethos of the National Health Service is lost. You replace collaboration with competition. It does not work. The worst of it is, this is what the government’s health bill proposes – more of the same. More private companies chipping off bits of the whole NHS, for profit. It’s interesting and worrying that the places where there is most third sector/private sector involvement – mental health, old people’s care homes, learning disability, terminal care – there are most gaps for patients to fall into.  Presumably profiteers see more areas to make their money but reducing costs.

Where do they reduce these costs? The other problem which QT is not addressing is the fact that care assistants are paid about £6.50- 7 an hour, just above the minimum wage. As a society, we have to think about who we value. Care assistants do a very difficult and demanding job, and should be valued by their employers and wider society. Care assistants should be given good training, good ongoing support, ongoing training, and decent wages. It should be a valid career option for people who are willing to work hard and do something of vital importance to vulnerable people. If easier,  non vocational work pays the same, we are hardly going to make caring a viable career option.

Improve care for vulnerable people: pay carers more.

6 Responses to “Panorama and care homes”

  1. jane lesley June 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    but here is a wonderful alternative…..

    and the care workers? – pocket money and a shared experience is all…

  2. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney June 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    these would be the same communities that follow the teachings of Steiner;

    I remember reading a brochure from one camphill community which said that people with learning disability had somehow ‘chosen’ this ‘path’ and it was all to do with karma. Or some nonsense. I have the brochure somewhere but may be a while finding it. Certainly a brief look online would confirm this kind of philosophy exists. David C has written about Steiner schools here: which I’d suggest reading.

    There seems a strong association between use of homeopathy in adults with learning disabilities and living in a Camphill community. Despite the good that the community may do, with a flawed underlying philosophy, I couldn’t support it.

  3. jane lesley June 5, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    but we all have falwed philopsophies. My learning disabled son llives in one of these communtites. He may well not have chosen to -but his lfe at home with “support” from social services involved him sitting at home all day alone staring at a television and eating crisps apart from being taken out once a week by invariably a different carer to go “swimming” or ride his bike. He was not -and never would be -able to go out on his own due to. This was care for a lad who wanted to do nothing in life other than be a forester- and had wanted this since he was 4. Now he is in a Camphill communtiy working in the forestry team in the morning with the support of a co-worker and on a farm in the afternoon. He has a girl-friend and a full social life and is truly deeply content for the first time in hims life. The structure of the community means he can go out safely by himself and have some measure of independence. Perfect philosophy it may not be – but it ohas given my son a quality of life he would never have had elsewhere.

  4. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney June 5, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    thanks Jane – I am glad your son has a full life; I only wish that was available to every person with a learning disability and without the underlying nonsense. Social services should be looking at what can be achieved by people with learning disabilities and be emulating that so that all could benefit. thanks. mgt

  5. jane lesley June 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    They should indeed. However to achieve this quality of life my son has had to pay for the place at Botton Village himself from a small inheritance left to him by his grandad. They would not fund him because of his savings level and all that they could offer locally was a place in a home in a town with 2 fifty year old men (my son was 23 at the time) and no daytime activities. This would cost him £800 per week (just for the accomodation and night-time care- day-time activities would be extra).
    At Botton Village he is paying about £400 a week – but with full structured day-time occupation (the forestry team and farm) and a full social life. When his money runs out later this year what will be his future? Winterbourne? A very isolated life here on our farm? A Hostel? Will social services be able to provide anything that remotely competes with what he has now for value for money and quality of life -I doubt it. I just pray that they will come down off their high horses, ignore the flawed philopsophy that creates such wonderful places (and we are ALL flawed somewhere along the line) and let him continue where he is so so happy and fulfilled.


  6. jerome burne June 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Problem is not just privatisations. Care homes especially those for the elderly used to be run by the council and there were a number of abuse scandals in the 90’s which certainly gave a push to privatisation. A major factor is failure of regulation Care Quality commission totally hopeless. Just how bad has been tracked by remarkable woman Eileen Chubb who runs a small penniless charity called compassion in care which is dedicated to showing what is actually happening in these places. An ex-care home nurse she has compiled independent reports on over 100 care homes which are often in stark contrast to those of the CQC. She has made them all avaialble to the Commission who have ignored all of them.
    See story on her in Mail health pages tomorrow