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By Debbie le Quesne

Consequences of care on the cheap . . .

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If you work in the care sector, have had a decent Bank Holiday break and are prone to uncontrollable rages at one-sided media coverage, don’t search on line for social care.

I wanted a quick catch-up after the weekend and stumbled on an offering from the Daily Mail online. It dealt with the recent CQC annual report and the findings are shocking.

Equally shocking is the fact that the newspaper has not attempted to present the reason why so many of these failures have occurred.

Here’s snipped just to raise your blood pressure: “A record number of care homes and hospitals were issued with official warnings last year after the health watchdog uncovered ‘unacceptable’ standards of care for the most vulnerable.

“Inspectors issued 910 ‘warning notices’ prompted by examples of pensioners forced to sleep in dirty beds, use dirty commodes and live in unheated rooms over the winter.

“Warning notices are issued when care is so bad that the law is not being complied with. They order institutions to improve on pain of closure or prosecution.

“The Care Quality Commission’s annual report reveals the number of warnings leapt by 43 per cent in a year to more than 17 a week.”

I’m not knocking the Commission here. They have a job to do and part of that is exposing bad care.

But the Mail seems to have missed a vital piece of information in its article.

A catalogue of failings included: Pensioners forced to sleep in unheated rooms over the winter; residents ignored when they were in visible pain; broken call bells meaning residents could not get help with going to the toilet; residents forced to sleep in dirty beds and use filthy commodes; staff falsifying medical records; unexplained injuries not investigated by staff and allegations of abuse not reported; and medication being given at the wrong times and doses being missed.

It doesn’t get much worse.

But why is this happening? If the Mail wants to shoot down the care industry, let’s see a bit of proper journalism at play first.

Yes, I know the CQC 2012/13 report is newsworthy, but the question has to be put why the care is so bad.

I cannot and will not defend bad care.

Details of the warning notices contained in the CQC’s 2012/13 report reveal 910 warning notices were issued, up from 638 the year before.

Of these, 818 were in adult social care – meaning care homes as well as care in pensioners’ own homes.

The remaining warnings were issued to other healthcare institutions, including hospitals, GP surgeries and ambulances, the Mail reports.

“It is not known whether the rise is down to an increase in poor standards, or the fact that the CQC is getting better at rooting out poor care,” the report adds.

This shaming, I believe, is primarily the result of an abandoned and chronically funded social care system. We perpetually battle for better bed payment deals from local authorities, man of which actually agree their fees should be higher. But their plight is much like ours – funds from central government have been unrealistically hacked to the bone.

I agree there are bad care proprietors, but in a lifetime’s experience within the care industry, I find most are good but are not paid anywhere near the amount of money needed to deliver care without some kind of compromise and the problems emerge when those compromises compromise care.

Many of my members survive only because of their private, fee-paying service users.

Their top-ups are being used to subsidise the care of those who do not pay such fees and sustain the level of care we all should expect.

The Mil headline reads: The shaming of UK care homes . . . but by whom? The operators – clearly they are culpable, but also I believe a series of governments, which have not given social care its proper value. Sadly, the care-on-the-cheap pigeons are now coming home to roost.

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