Mum's Community Homecare Crisis!

We have a community homecare crisis where our elderly are in fear of abuse and neglect and unless we find a solution the baby boomers will be the  next generation to experience it.

We had our own Community Homecare Crisis when suddenly I was in a situation where I was being advised by various health practioners who were dealing with my Mum that the time had come where she needed 24 hour residential care for her own safety.

She was unable to move in with me because she couldn't cope with the stairs and I didn't have a room downstairs that I could turn into a bedroom for her or a downstairs bathroom.  Her retirement apartment was too small for me to go and live with her.

Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimers not long after my Father had died in Febuary 2002 and in the following 6 years I saw at first hand how bad the Community homecarecare crisis was.

She had short stays at a number of local community homes in our search to find a suitable one but unfortunately they were all really bad experiences for both her and me yet they were all highly recommended by local health practioners.

Because she had Alzheimers they wanted her to be locked in the Dementia Unit even though it wasn't necessary for the stage she was at. 

She consequently felt she was being kept a prisoner and on one occasion she became so agitated she tried to phone the Police for help.  When a nurse tried to stop her she lashed out at the Nurse and consequently I got a telephone call to say they wouldn't keep her and wanted her removed.

It was unfortunate because I could see Mum's side of it.  She was confused and frightened in a place she wasn't familiar with.    I could also see that the Home's Management had duty of care to protect their staff, but this was a prime example where staff had not received the correct training to deal with dementia patients.

If a home is advertising that they take dementia patients you would think that they could cope with a patient getting aggressive.

I believe that lack of training is one of the main reasons for our  community homecare crisis.  Carers and Nurses don't seem to have any compassion for the elderly and many don't know how to deal with dementia.

Alzheimers Dementia is a very complex disease.  Patients can be quite lucid and appear normal at times and then suddenly they'll become agitated and confused. 

It can be difficult to assess the level of dementia a paitent is suffering.  Consequently they seem to treat all  patients the same, mention dementia and they immediately put them in a secure building locking them away and restricting their freedom instead of monitoring the level of security they need.

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Our Own Community Homecare Crisis

Once I started to visit various homes and expierence the problems it was easy to see how we had a community homecare crisis.  What was promised in their marketing brochures and what was actually delivered were very different in most cases.

  • The promise of the 'many social activities' was sadly lacking in most of them.
  • The 'excellent menu' they advertised never quite delivered.
  • Some days she wouldn't be bathed becaused of lack of staff and she had to do what she could herself.
  • Clothes that went to the laundry either came back ruined or disappeared never to be seen again.
  • Outings that were promised never happened because of lack of staff.
  • Her usual bedtime of 10.00 p.m. had to become 7.00 p.m. to fit their routine.
  • Medication was very hit and miss with Mum complaining she hadn't had her tablets, but  couldn't be proved because of her memory problems.
  • One summer she was staying in a  home that had the most beautiful gardens 'for residents to sit in and enjoy' but she was locked in and not allowed into them unless I was there to accompany her.

The community homecare crisis is so bad that we've had several homes in our area closed after incidents and complaints.

There have been several television programmes reporting on the community homecare crisis across the country with dreadful stories of abuse and neglect.

Check out our page on Choosing a Residential Care Home and the Residential Care Homes Checklist.

Care Crisis in our NHS Hospitals.

It isn't just a community homecare crisis that we're experiencing .  It's  a care crisis in our Hospitals too, where the elderly are being neglected to such an extent that some are dying from starvation and de-hydration.

When Mum was admitted to hospital with what appeared to be a urinary tract infection, but was later diagnosed as abcessed diverticulitis she caught a hospital infection  C-difficile and was of course isolated in a side ward.  She didn't understand why she was being isolated and was left alone for hours on end.  She was so frail  when she was finally discharged she was like a walking skeleton.

The hospital made several attempts to discharge her before she was completely free of infection.  Twice she was in the discharge lounge waiting for transport and taken ill and had to be put back into  bed.

Once they said she was free of c-diff to a care home I had arranged for her, only for the Care Home to refuse to accept her.   She spent most of that day in an ambulance backwards and forwards, missing lunch and dinner,  not knowing where she was or where she was going.

She was in hospital in total some 3 months.

  • During that time she was never offered a bath or had her hair washed even though I arranged for someone to wash her hair they were told she wasn't well enough on the day.
  • Her finger nails were black with dirt.
  • When she asked for assistance to go to the toilet she was told just to do it in her bed because they were too busy.
  • Her food would go untouched because she didn't realise it was for her.
  • She became severely dehydrated because she forgot to drink and no-one monitored her or encouraged her to drink.
  • When I raised concerns I witnessed a  Doctor and a Nurse  arguing whether she should be put on a drip to re-hydrate her.
  • One day she was crying with pain and I begged the Doctor to give her some painkillers.  I was told she was making too much fuss because she had Alzheimers and really wasn't in pain at all.
  • The hospital did everything in their power to discharge her before she was completely free of the hospital acquired infection.

Mum didn't want me to make a fuss about anything because she feared they would be angry with her.

I could go on with a catalogue of incidents of lack of care but I think you probably get the picture.

By the time she was discharged she was so frail she was totally incapable of looking after herself and went into community home care, but within a few days she had slipped off her bed and broken her hip. 

The Home sent her back to Hospital in an ambulance on her own where she remained for several hours before we were contacted and could get to her.  Consequently by the time we arrived she was distraught.

Following a hip replacement operation she caught another hospital infection  the norovirus, which rendered her to weak to get up on her new hip which lead to pneumonia developing  and her eventual death in December 2007.

During that three months there was very little compassion or dignity for my Mum. 

 I raised my concerns about the standard of care or lack of it  with the  Patient Advice and Liaison Service but all they did was raise my concerns with the Ward Sister which I had already done.

Following her death I complained in writing using their Complaints Procedure to the Hospital's Chief Executive but received no apologies just a standard letter saying they'd investigated my complaints  and found they were unsubstantiated.

The Community Homecare Crisis Continues!

It's now 2015 and our community home care crisis continues.  From the cases that regularly hit the headlines nothing seems to have improved.  If anything it continues to deteriorate.  We must stand up and fight. 

Our loved ones deserve better than this and I personally want some peace of mind that things will have improved if ever I need similar care.

I often wonder how these homes arrive at the scale of charges which seem so extortionate  for such poor care. 

If I ever have the misfortune to need care I want to be assured there is no community homecare crisis anywhere.    What about you?

It's going to be up to us to keep complaining and bringing it into the spotlight until it changes.

Age Uk are backing a campaign to end the care crisis - Age uk Care-in-Crisis Campaign   Please go over and see how you can help.

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