By Debbie le Quesne

CQC adviser with roots in the reality of care

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Beth Britton has had an unenviable journey to the very top of the caring business.

In just over a couple of years after writing her first blog on caring for her father who had vascular dementia, she’s now advising on the CQC special measures initiative for care homes.

I like this woman. She’s not an academic, was educated to GCSE level mostly at home because of bullying issues at school, and critically, has first hand -knowledge of care at the sharpest end of delivery.

You can find her talking about her father, who had vascular dementia for two years, on YouTube.

Now in demand as a writer, speaker and adviser, she was brought in by health secretary Jeremy Hunt to talk to the media about the Commission’s proposals for failing homes.

Her interview with the Guardian online is heartrending, as she describes her father Ray’s illness and what it meant to her.

After 10 years he suffered a major stroke, where in hospital, dementia was at last diagnosed and he went the first of three care homes. He spent spent most of the next eight years there, funded by the NHS.

She says that the first home delivered “good care, for what it was”, but it was unable to cope with her father’s behavior.

After a spell back in hospital, the second home “didn’t look much,” but staff were caring and competent.

Her interesting quote adds: “I always say to people: go with your gut instinct. Don’t go for something that looks like a hotel, or promises anything and everything. Go for something that feels right to you.” Good advice.

Sadly, that home went downhill with a succession of four owners. Ray ended up back in hospital after inhaling his own vomit.

Within three days, he was receiving what Beth says was “outstanding” palliative care in another home run by the Fremantle Trust, Ray died shortly after his 85th birthday,

It’s important to me that people like Beth should be the ones offering advice to the CQC. To use an expression ‘she’s got the T-shirt” for understanding care at its most critical points.

The mover and shakers need to be earthed in reality and I believe Beth and others like her have a lot to offer the industry. Let’s hope her voice is heard.

She is quick to acknowledge most of the care for her father was excellent, but clearly supports the idea of a special measures regime for struggling care providers.

She backs too, the idea for CCTV in residents’ rooms, but does not wish care homes to become “a police state’ environment.

Personally, I believe the use of cameras needs to be the very last step for monitoring quality and care delivery and should ideally be done on the guidance of police. Should anyone have any suspicions of poor care they should contact; managers, Local Authority Safeguarding, CQC or the Police immediately.


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