By Debbie le Quesne

Dignity: Blowing the whistle on bad practice and poor care

leave a comment »

I’ve been troubled all week over the Hillcroft Nursing Home case in Lancaster where rogue carers have been jailed for pelting residents’ heads with beanbags “for their entertainment.”

These kind of crimes are sickening, they erode public confidence in the care sector and serve only to devalue the excellent service so many providers give.

How do we stop such cruelty? Often it has been through media intervention but it shouldn’t be that way.

It’s a sad, but true, fact that there are bad carers and I believe it is every good carers’ duty to help weed them out.

As part of the run into Dignity Action Day on February 1, I want to encourage a culture of whistle-blowing. Enlightened organisation know it makes sense in preserving reputation and business.

Employees need to feel free to challenge bad practice and poor behavior but blowing the whistle is never easy. It is, however, a vital part of safeguarding in social care environments.

Terry Bryan, the whistleblower and former senior nurse at Winterbourne View, was initially ignored by his manager, senior Castlebeck staff and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

His tenacity, however, paid off, and the resulting BBC Panorama exposé resulted in real change for the better.

The residents were moved to safety, the abusers were prosecuted, the home was closed and ultimately the provider went out of business. The CQC also changed its practice in relation to whistleblowers. A since act produced monumental changes for good.

Events like the abuse of residents at Winterbourne View and the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, have strengthened the argument that there is inadequate protection. These events serve as a stark reminder; both that employees may choose not to raise concerns for fear of the consequences and that employers may fail to respond. These cases have also raised serious concerns about the role of the regulator.

No-one really wants to talk about having a rogue employee in the ranks and the possibility of a culture that does not uphold dignity. But we must foster an environment of trust and respond to any allegation with supportive actions.

The National Minimum Training Standards for Healthcare Support Workers and Adult Social Care Workers in England require workers to know how and when to escalate any concerns; this includes use of whistleblowing policies.

The standards tell workers: “You must report things that you feel are not right, are illegal or if anyone at work is neglecting their duties. This includes when someone’s health and safety is in danger; damage to the environment; a criminal offence; that the company is not obeying the law (like not having the right insurance); or covering up wrongdoing’ (Skills for Care and Skills for Health, 2013).”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: