By Debbie le Quesne

Gloria Foster tragedy: I am left aghast

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The unnecessary suffering of elderly people always upsets me. Yesterday saw a newsbreak that shamed social care.

It involved the death of an elderly woman who was left without food and medication for nine days followed a “serious mistake” in her care, a report has found.

Gloria Foster, from Banstead in Surrey, died in February after her care agency shut with no replacement, following a police and UK Border Agency raid.

Reported by the BBC and other media, Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board said “professional omissions” were made by a social worker in Reigate and Banstead.

Two members of staff have been suspended from Surrey County Council said two

Disciplinary action will follow the findings of the report.

“The 81-year-old widow was found by a district nurse suffering from dehydration and starvation nine days after Agency Carefirst24 was shut down. She died in hospital two weeks later,” the Beeb online report says.

The Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board report states: “A serious mistake seems an inadequate description of what happened. But leaving aside all the ‘what ifs’, that is exactly what happened.”

It said, according to the BBC report, the “professional omissions” made by a social worker at the Reigate and Banstead office were based on “false assumptions” that were not questioned by the worker’s supervisors.

Sarah Mitchell, Surrey County Council’s strategic director for adult social care, is reported as saying: “We are very sorry for our failure to help Gloria Foster to get the support she needed. This report points out we should have done more and we completely accept that.”

I am left open-mouthed – aghast!

What’s worse, according to the Daily Telegraph, Surrey County Council was given a list of all the agency’s clients and contact details by the Metropolitan Police – and that list included Mrs Foster.

The Guardian carries a leader comment on this sorry business. This is what part of it says: “Caring is done almost exclusively by women. Many do the job, and more than the job, despite the pay. They are undervalued. Their service is underfunded. Gloria Foster’s death lays bare the consequences in one human story. It is an outrage to the carers. It can be a humiliation to the cared-for – or worse.”

I cannot image what those who cared for Gloria Foster much think – outraged is just not a strong enough word.

In moments like this I really become scared about the future of care in our nation, but it fires me to do my bit to preserve and enhance the quality of caring my members bring to the most vulnerable.

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