I watched the Panorama programme today while nan was watching Tipping Point. I didn’t want to watch it last night as I knew it would me stressed before bed. I like to worry about the rest of the world before I go to sleep, but I thought this might have tipped me over, especially judging by the comments on Twitter.
For those of you who didn’t catch it, it was a hidden camera look into care homes with “exclusive research into the mortality rates of care and nursing homes for the elderly in England”. The blurb also informed me that “Panorama exposes the pain of poor care and neglect…” So I knew it wouldn’t be rainbows and butterflies. I won’t go into depth about the contents of the programme, as it was distressing footage that we have seen the likes of before. Not that I am belittling the pain and suffering of the people and families at the hands of these “carers”, but it made me mull over several issues.
Firstly, as I touched on above, many of us have seen footage of abuse/neglect in care homes before. This does not make it less distressing, but I do not think it is always necessary to show this footage to emphasise a point. Too much negativity is shown in the media and this is obviously affecting the way people view care homes, and why so many are reluctant to use the services available. Instead of pushing this negativity at us, perhaps the media could use these as opportunities to educate of us of the good care available, and the ways in which we can help change the bad sides of care?
Furthermore, throughout this 29 minute programme, there was less than 2 minutes of good care shown. I know it was a programme to highlight the negatives, but we never have programmes highlighting the positives and I for one would like to see more of this being shown, to reassure the public that not all care homes are the hell holes they are currently portrayed as.
This programme also made me think of the consistencies in care. I’m not sure what the situation is like nationally in care homes, but for home care I know we have seen a few different faces being sent in by the same company. Currently we have two regular faces, and nan and I are pleased with this. It gives her the personalised care she deserves, and me the reassurance that the girls who come in know who she is, what she likes (cheese!) and what she needs. But in care homes, it would not be logistical to have the same carer 24/7 (work laws apparently state you can’t work 24/7, but my fellow carer friends, and mothers would insist it is possible). So how many faces do people in care homes see? Do they get to know they faces? Or is it a case of completing essential tasks and whizzing off to the next person? Do we have enough carers in care homes? I know home care companies seem to constantly be recruiting, but I had never thought about the situation in care homes. Can anyone give me some information?
My other problem is again money. It always comes down to money. Why does it seem to be that the more money you have, the better chances you have of being offered good care? Too much quality care seems to be based on how much people can pay, and if you can’t pay top prices, you have to settle.
Something else the programme flagged up was an attitude about elderly people that I have, unfortunately come across. A whistle-blower told the programme that her place of work seemed to think “these people are old, they don’t matter, they’re dispensible, they’ve served their purpose”. This especially seems to be the case with a GP nearby, he seems to shrug off issues and says to see how they go in a couple of weeks, when he has already been called about the same issue a few weeks previously. He seems unwilling to look into extra issues, and I now wonder if this is because the patient is elderly, and he thinks it is a waste of his time? That is a sad thought. HOWEVER, this is not the attitude I have come across with many people, in fact most are so willing to help that it gives me hope for the world. So once again my heartfelt thanks to the following people who haven’t written nan off just because she’s old; the hospital staff, the paramedics, the carers who come in at the weekends, the social worker.
My final point was raised in the programme, and was discussed at length on Twitter. We all have a duty of care, not just for ourselves, or our loved ones, but all the people around us. Talk to everyone you see (especially in care homes) and keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary, not everybody has someone to fight their corner for them. Those of us that can fight should fight for as many people as we can.
Thankyou again for reading and sharing. Much love to all the family and friends (old, new and those I’ve yet to meet) who have helped this reach so many people. I have gained such an amazing support network from starting this blog and I hope it helps others as much as it helps me.
EDIT: Would appear that money not always guaranteed to provide good care. Just been emailed this link
More evidence that neglect can happen anywhere, but thank goodness the manager of the care home was unwilling to let it slide. Just the sort of person you want.