For the sake of all our elderly, vulnerable relatives, we must ensure that there are never any gaps in ‘care home’ care.
Following a sad and disturbing claim that has just been settled, personal injury specialist Kirsty Broadway, of our Bristol office, highlights the need for uninterrupted 24/7, year-round responsibility in care homes around Britain…
Recently an elderly pensioner, in a care home and suffering from dementia, was found in a distressed state with severe bruising that suggested some sort of an assault. A doctor confirmed that the bruising was not, in his opinion, self-inflicted.
Police investigations revealed that CCTV was not operating at the time of the incident even though it was in place to track this sort of incident. Remedial surgery to correct the injuries was not possible due to the age of the individual, and later the patient sadly died.
How could this tragedy have happened in the very place an elderly person should expect to feel completely safe and looked after? After all, isn’t that the raison d’être of a care home? Clearly not.
Over the past few months, my practice in Bristol alone has handled some 75 cases of proven neglect within the care home industry. The most common problems relate to bedsores which are, in themselves, easily dealt with and to be expected when elderly people lie in bed for protracted periods of time.
But when staff do not care a simple sore spot can turn into an incurable infected wound causing the most awful pain to the patient, and sometimes death. Yet hospital staff seem not to care about dealing with them properly.
That they can’t deal with such a simple problem suggests they are also not dealing with many other issues affecting elderly people. Until they understand this people will suffer, families will complain bitterly and will seek help from us, as lawyers, to sue them… until they recognise that what they are doing is totally unacceptable.
Not to have time to move patients, keep them clean, feed them and give them drinks is unthinkable, yet that is what they do, or rather don’t do. Let me try an analogy.
If you are the victim of a road accident, but the paramedics are too busy completing the paperwork to give first aid, stop bleeding, monitor vital signs and issue sedatives until it is done, you could die.
This is exactly what is happening within the care home industry and even the NHS… and still we accept it.