My Dad’s nursing home cost £1500 per week, was rated by CQC as Outstanding in all areas and prided itself on delivering ‘person-centred’ care. What a joke - Dad didn’t even have a care plan describing how to meet his personal needs and wishes; instead there were just endless tick-box risk management plans. Apparently, person-centred care doesn’t even extend to ensuring residents were wearing their own clothes and shoes; and many clothes and all but one pair of Dad’s shoes went missing and were never found, despite having name tags on. Dad’s toenails were never cut, except by us, and his hair was left to grow shaggy and unkempt, despite me having told the home how important looking good had always been to my father.
Despite providing 24-hour nursing care, the home also failed to recognise simple important things like when my Dad was constipated, or to act when his ankles swelled so much they couldn’t put his shoes on. My Dad went into the home physically fit (he could walk for an hour easily), happy and handsome. He came out pale, dishevelled and unable to walk hardly any distance, as he’d been pretty much a prisoner indoors for a year. We had to fight for him to be offered walks outdoors for fresh air and exercise; none of the other residents were, we never even saw residents in the garden. When we got Dad out and brought him home, we realised he had been left to eat all his meals with his then often filthy fingers, even though he can still use cutlery with encouragement. That really upset me, where was his person-centred care and his dignity then. We also realised that night staff had been getting Dad up and changed before 7am, simply to suit staff rotas, leaving him tired and often grumpy; while at home he sleeps until midday at home and then wakes full of smiles.
Many of the staff were lovely but the home was simply a money-making business that lacked clinical leadership and any clinical model of care. They also failed to understand that the key laws governing their service, such as the Mental Capacity Act, are not just a paper exercise but actually need to be upheld in all areas of care delivery, so my father’s legal rights were continually abused. When we picked my Dad up to bring him home, one of the staff slipped me a Do Not Resuscitate form that had been completed for my Dad a year before without even bothering to discuss this with us, despite that being completely illegal. We were very grateful to be able to get my Dad out of that care home and bring him home with us, where we’ve set up proper person-centred nursing care (at half the cost to my Dad of the care home) and where we are accompanying him on his very important end-of-life journey with love and a proper understanding of his needs. However, I can’t stop thinking about all the care home residents that don’t even have families visiting them, which seems to be the majority of people in care homes now.
Those poor souls have no-one around to remember the person they are under the disability, they are left alone in their confusion and distress without anyone to make sure their needs and preferences are being recognised and met. No one is even going to know if they’ve being neglected or abused in these profit-driven businesses that so obviously lack the professional expertise and compassion that people imagine they have. Evidence suggests that thousands of our frail vulnerable elders are being neglected and abused across our country as I am writing this, while wealthy business people and shareholders get rich on their suffering. That is a shameful reflection on our society.