Comment from Trevor Brocklebank, CEO of Home Instead
The footage obtained by the BBC and aired in today’s One O’Clock News is a shocking example of a home care company failing one of their clients and causing them, and their family, undue distress.
In many previous cases of poor care highlighted by the media, the care companies in question were contracted to provide short duration care visits of 15 or 30 minutes and we have for a long time identified this as being fundamentally flawed but the care visits at the centre of this report were of one hour duration.
The problem shown in the footage is that carers failed to turn up, or were unacceptably late and when they did, some behaved in an uncaring and disrespectful way.
One of the issues we have been talking about for many years now is that the way in which contracts are operated by many local authorities are seriously flawed. The problem is that local authorities are putting pressure on care providers to reduce costs and companies are equally at fault, in our opinion, for accepting these reduced costs. It’s why we will not enter into block contracts as they impose constraints which means that care becomes task-based rather than focusing on the needs and dignity of the individual.
Some of the most upsetting and alarming footage aired today shows an elderly lady being treated in an undignified and inhumane manner – this sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable.
It is Home Instead’s stated aim to change the way care is delivered to the elderly in the UK. We are leading by example to demonstrate that quality care, which places the needs and wishes of the elderly at the very centre of their care, is actually achievable and already happening.
The news report points to a lack of training, lack of respect for the role by some of the carers shown and poor management on the part of the provider.
When the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published their enquiry into home care in 2011 they audited Home Instead and our approach and, owing to our unique approach, were praised by the EHRC.
The feedback we received from the EHRC included the following items as worthy of praise;
· Having well trained and supported staff who engage with and listen to the wishes of older people.
· The manager of care workers having an initial visit with each person receiving home care to establish a relationship.
· Making sure that older people knew how to raise issues of concern and that they meet a manager from the agency so would feel more confident in raising issues with someone they were familiar with.
In addition to these examples of best practice our service differs to many other providers in the following ways;
· A care consultation ensures that the care is tailored to the client’s needs, rather than being a simple task focused check list
· Continuity of care, whereby clients are visited by the same carer on each visit, ensures that relationships are built
· Our visits are typically an hour in duration, frequently longer, to ensure carers have the time to focus on the client as well as the tasks they have to perform.
The most distressing aspect of today’s footage is that it shows many instances where the client’s health and dignity do not appear to be on the agenda and this is saddening. There is no place in care for this inhumane of behaviour.
Whilst in this case there are clearly individuals and companies at fault, it raises a bigger issue and this is the need for a change to the entire system. The recent White Paper paves the way for reform but it lacks a detailed funding model in order for real progress to be made.
Having said this, without a fundamental change in society to become more caring, tolerant and respectful of the elderly (and each other), we will not progress.
As a company we will continue to bring pressure to bear on the government as they seek to put reform of our social care system in place.