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Your guide to care home negligence

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Everyone in the family has been badly let down

“One in five nursing homes  across the UK have been found to not have enough staff on duty to ensure residents received good, safe care.”                      Care Quality Commission report , 2013/14.

Care homes have come under the spotlight in recent years as negative reports into care worker standards have revealed levels of negligence and abuse in a number of cases.

It’s often a difficult enough decision to place a member of your family into a care home. Your choice of home was based on trust and confidence.  You expected an appropriate standard of care would be provided and you strongly feel that everyone in the family has been badly let down.

Lack of proper staff supervision

While many care homes do provide excellent care, it is not always the case. Some care homes have been found to lack the proper staff supervision, experience or training considered necessary to provide an appropriate level of daily care for elderly people in vulnerable physical or mental health.

The anxiety and distress felt by all the family demands answers for why “conditions have been allowed to continue” and a loved one appears “deprived of all sense of dignity.”

If you have believe that an elderly relative is not receiving the standard of care expected or even being wilfully neglected, you may have cause to bring:

  • A negligence claim against the care home and
  • Claim compensation on behalf of the family member affected

Our dedicated clinical negligence team at Your Legal Friend has many years of  experience in successfully resolving many different types of cases where standards of treatment and care have fallen below the appropriate standard, so that those responsible are brought to account.

We can help you :

  • Find out if an elderly family member has not received  the expected standard of care or been subjected to abuse
  • Secure access to make your complaint heard
  • Obtain legal compensation for the injury or harm suffered.

An increasing need

  • The number of people aged 85 and over has increased by 30% between 2005 and 2014.                                    

 (Office for National Statistics, 2013)

Between 2005/6 and 2012/13, the elderly’s use of:

  • Residential care homes – rose by 21% from 135,000 to 164,000.
  • Nursing care – rose by 22% from 65,000 to 79,000.

                                                                                                         (Care in Crisis Report  - Age UK, 2014)

Between 2013/14, a Care Quality Commission Study found:

  • A wide variation in the quality of adult social care
  • People in residential (non-nursing) care homes tended to receive better care than those in nursing homes
  • One in five nursing homes did not have enough staff on duty to ensure residents received good, safe care
  • Compliance was 10 -15% higher for care homes with a registered manager.

                                                                      ( ‘State of Care’ annual report on health and social care in England, 2013/14)

  • 176,000 safeguarding alerts were reported by 132 councils, 2012/13, up by 27,000 (20 per cent) on 2011/12
  • 78 per cent of local councils had an increase in alerts, 2012-13.

                                                                                                (hscisc - Abuse of Vulnerable Adults in England, 2012/13)

The two main types of care home

Residential care homes

  • Vary in size from very small homes with few beds to large-scale facilities.
  • Offer care and support, day and night.
  • Staff help with washing, dressing, at meal times, and with using the washroom.

Nursing homes

  • Normally offer the same type of care as residential homes
  • With the addition of 24-hour medical care from a qualified nurse.

Signs of neglect or abuse - what to look for

It’s almost certain you will immediately feel that “something is wrong” because of:

  • Not being their “usual self” - a definite change in behaviour or acting out of character.
  • Health problems - such as bed sores or loss of weight.
  • Personal hygiene issues – such as a strong smell of urine indicating basic needs are not being met.
  • Dehydration – failure by carers to ensure enough liquids are being taken, which could lead to frequent urinary tract infections. Is water or juice available and within reach and in a cup that can be used?
  • Medication – a changed condition could be caused by an overdose or not receiving medication.  How often has the care home’s GP seen your relative and reviewed their medication? Are the medication charts accurate and up-to-date?
  • Calls for help or call bells – How quickly are they answered by staff? Can your relative access their call bell or has it been put out of reach?
  • Access – Are the doors security coded so that staff accompany residents when accessing different floors? Are the entrance and exit points of the premises secured to stop vulnerable residents wandering off and being exposed to harm? Are the fire exits in good condition?
  • Accidents - can and do happen in residential care homes and are often caused by carelessness on the part of the staff.
  • Injuries - the sudden appearance of bruising, cuts, grazes, which look unlikely to be the result of a fall or an accident are the most obvious signs of physical abuse.

However, accidents can also be caused by negligence because:

  • Appropriate equipment may not be provided or maintained
  • Lack of staff in attendance.

Compensation Claims for Care Home Negligence

You may be eligible to make a claim for care home negligence, if you have suffered an injury as a result of failures such as:

  • Providing regular bathing, washing and cleaning
  • Providing food or water leading to dehydration and malnutrition
  • Providing appropriate lifting aids leading to injury and harmProviding appropriate medication or medical care when required
  • Providing clean bedding and change clothing
  • Preventing pressure sores or pressure ulcers from developing or failing to treat pre existing pressure sores
  • Preventing a fall, which caused a fracture or injury to the head and back
  • Preventing careless handling whilst being moved
  • Using appropriate mobility aids or properly supervise
  • Preventing administration errors.

Physical abuse leading to severe injuries is a very serious issue, requiring evidence of:

  • Assault and bullying
  • Abusive comments, obscene language, yelling and threatening behaviour/ actions
  • Lack of care for patients with low mental capacity
  • Personal insults and showing lack of compassion and sympathy
  • Errors in staff conduct
  • Withholding necessary food, physical care, and medical attention
  • Other instances of mistreatment and abuse.

How Your Legal Friend can help you..

As experienced clinical negligence specialists, we know that if you and your family are concerned by the treatment and care a relative has received at a care home or nursing home, you will be feeling severely let down and will want to hold those responsible to account for the harm and distress caused to all concerned.

Your Legal Friend is committed to ensuring that victims of all types of negligence have legal access to make their voice heard, which may prevent others from suffering in a similar way.