Empowering families in the care system.
The People's Care Watchdog was created by families for families and other concerned members of the public.
We initially came together to support one another in navigating the care system during lockdown.
We have developed into a campaign to create new systems of care for the vulnerable in our society.
We are working to stop neglect and abuse; to empower families in their options and rights; and show how we can all help make the changes that are needed.
We aim to:
- educate the public on the current care system and other options available
- empower those who have concerns to raise them
- create new systems of care that serve and protect our most vulnerable in society
- shift the way we collectively view the elderly and adults with special needs
- present community-led solutions
Meet The Team
Sasha Paterson - Co-Founder
My Dad was a great social worker who always fought for his clients and their rights. I admired him for the work he did and eventually followed him into social work; later moving into management, commissioning and strategy work. I left the social care system in 2010 to set up and run up a busy social enterprise and then later moved to rural France.
By 2020 my Dad had advanced Alzheimer’s but still wanted a social life that we couldn’t give him in France, so I reluctantly found the very best care home I could for him in England. Despite the home being very expensive and rated as Outstanding by CQC, I had to spend a year in the UK to support Dad and to ensure that even his basic needs were being met. While there, I started coming across the very sad stories of other care home families online, so I started reaching out and offering the professional/legal information they needed to challenge unlawful care home practices. This was how I met both Leandra and Fiona and started advocating for families. We then set up our Facebook page to get the necessary advice and information out to as many families as possible. However, the endless and harrowing stories of abuse and neglect and the failings of numerous public bodies, led us to realise that we needed to do much more than fight for one family at a time and so The People’s Care Watchdog was born.
Now my Dad is back with us in France where all his needs and preferences are carefully and lovingly met. He is one of the fortunate ones and, although he cannot understand and express this now, I know that he would be very proud of all that we are trying to do.
Fiona Gowrley - Co-Founder
I was lucky enough to come across Sasha via social media and she helped our family obtain access to my mother in law's care home in Feb 2021, after being locked out for 16 months. We were horrified to find my mother in law had been neglected with inexcusable weight loss and multiple pressure sores. Within three weeks we had brought her home to be cared for.
I was sickened to find, through connecting with other families, that the neglect we had experienced was sadly not a one off. It became apparent that there was a systemic problem with neglect and abuse in the Care Home system and Local Authorities, the Police and the CQC were failing in their responsibilities to uphold standards.
I hope that in uniting with other families across the country and starting this citizen led project we can bring visibility to the issues and demand that we do better by our most vulnerable in society.
As for my mother in law - almost a year on she is doing amazingly, having gained back all of the weight she lost and the majority of her sores healed. My husband, I and our three daughters are now able to enjoy time with her and ensure she is comfortable and content.
Gilly Dobson - Steering committee member
I don’t want any other families to have to go through what I went through. Neither do I want my Dad’s death to be in vain. Lessons need to be learned and I think it is important that people who have a story like mine tell them so we can make the big changes to the care system that are so needed.
Dad was a clever man. He was from a poor background, but he passed his exams to go to grammar school . He was a hard worker and went on to build his own house and establish his own successful business. He was proud of what he had accomplished from nothing.
I was the apple of his eye. He was a hard taskmaster and did not suffer fools, but he was a great support of me, and I loved him dearly. He loved music and dancing, he loved nature, particularly plants and trees. He had a strong value of fairness and of family and treated everyone the same. He was a good man.
In Summer 2019 my dad was diagnosed with dementia and by February 2020, I was encouraged to move him into a care home. I did this reluctantly. I have since learnt the hard way about the care of the elderly in our country. I am determined that my Dad's untimely death will be part of the foundation of building new systems of care that are worthy of him and others like him.
Sarah Ann Cross - Steering committee member
I started my working life as a carer, as I had cared for my mum since 1979 when she suffered a life-changing road traffic accident due to a drunk driver. I studied care work at college and I am a trained youth worker and office manager. I have two passions in life outside my family - the young and the elderly, two groups that struggle to be heard. I ran a youth centre for 11 years in my community, bridging the generational gap, until my family suffered a tragic loss and my mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimers. I then had emergency surgery on my spine which left me confined to a wheelchair.
When I came across Sasha, in January 2021, she told me my mum's situation was one of the worst she had come across, with numerous local authority failings. Mum and I have been to hell and back and we're still fighting her case. However, now I'm a member of the People's Care Watchdog I'm also fighting to stop other people and their families going through what Mum and I have been through.
Leandra Ashton - Co-Founder
From the onset of my Nan's dementia I supported my Mum as best I could in finding the care she needed. I’ve met some wonderful carers and have seen their challenges first-hand. I’ve also witnessed low staffing levels, shocking neglect and profit being placed above people.
My Nan's story hitting the news put me in touch with hundreds of families and I realised that the struggles we were facing were unfortunately far too common. The current care system impacts not just those living within it but also their families, friends and care professionals. I want to be part of bringing the current reality of care homes into the nation’s consciousness and be part of building something new.
I bring professional experience of the power of stories and dialogue to change hearts, minds and lives. I studied Modern and Medieval Languages at Newnham College, Cambridge before earning a Walls scholarship to train on the three year acting degree at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
I set up Flying Cloud Theatre in 2009 and ran it as a social enterprise. We created new plays and community projects supported by Arts Council England and funds derived from our own design and delivery of communications training for international businesses.
As an actress I’ve taken various roles for the BBC, ITV and major UK theatres. As a workshop facilitator I’ve worked with people from every walk of life: from diplomats to school children, entrepreneurs to hospital staff, and board directors to refugees.
My hope is that through the People’s Care Watchdog we all start talking about our most vulnerable citizens in care homes, and together create the care revolution that is so desperately needed.
With Sasha's expertise we were able to bring my Nan home. The final 13 months of her life were spent being lovingly nursed by my Mum.
Pat Myers - Steering committee member
I have been fortunate in having had a very fulfilling professional life. Initially as a teacher, including 7 years teaching in the Bahamas; Theatre Management in the UK ; at Senior Management level in Local Government as Assistant Chief Officer for Entertainment and Tourism; and latterly 28 years, as Registrar at one of the world’s leading Drama Schools, during which time I was awarded an OBE.
Leandra and I crossed paths previously and reunited in our attempts to support our loved ones survive their time in residential care homes. I joined the Peoples Care Watchdog Campaign to contribute to using our personal experiences to expose how the residential care provision for our elderly population has deteriorated to an unacceptable level. Old age isn’t just bad luck. It affects us all. As individuals, we all need actively to CARE about restoring and maintaining dignity and pride in the lives of those in their twilight years, whether this is in a residential care home or in the community.
Ruth Manning - Steering committee member
I became involved with campaigning for freedom and justice for those in carehomes, following the first lockdown and subsequent closing of doors on all relatives, in March 2020. My involvement in the care system up until this point had been limited, and more frustrating than anything. Since October 2019 I had been attempting to find a more suitable placement for my son, who suffers from Huntington's Disease, having realised the care home he was in was not able to meet either his fundamental or complex needs.
I initially felt very alone in my fight to gain access to my son, during the first lock down. I was quoted in a Guardian article and was 'making a noise' on both National television and in many National newspapers, but it was a very isolated and frustrating experience. It was only after I discovered various groups on social media where relatives were having similar frustrations to myself, that I began to realise that it was possible to find strength in numbers and that as a member of a group I was going to achieve far more than as a lone individual voice. Through various channels and individual contact with people who are now part of The People's Care Watchdog, I realised that the problems within the care system as a whole needed to be addressed and reformed. The rest, as they say...'is history.'