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BBC Investigation Uses Spy Cameras to Highlight Care Home Neglect

IV bag in nursing home

Concerns have once again been raised over the standard of care in UK nursing homes, after a BBC Panorama investigation used a daughter’s secret footage to highlight the neglect and poor care of her elderly Mother. The story seems sadly familiar, coming in the wake of several high profile similar revelations that pose tough questions to the UK care industry.

The latest investigation was started after Margaret Heslop’s family noticed a change in her behaviour over the time she spent in a Residential Nursing home.  After their concerns grew stronger, they made the difficult decision to install a spy camera hidden inside a clock in Margaret’s room. This allowed them to see the care she was receiving on a daily basis, when they were unable to visit her personally. This resulting footage was highly distressing, with Margaret being left in damp clothes, and nurses not taking precautions to avoid moving her sore leg. In one instance, her call button was even unplugged.

This all comes in the wake of a series of damning care home neglect stories, many exposed by Panorama investigations. These include abuse recorded last year in a home rated “excellent” by the Care Quality Commission, and the widely publicised shocking violent abuse of youths with special needs in a Bristol facility. Even as recently as last week, the BBC had reported on neglect suffered by vulnerable pensioners who relied on private in-home care services. In every case, the family’s only found out about the extent of the problem after reviewing spy or CCTV camera footage.

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After the most recent investigation Four Seasons Health Care, who runs the home in question, acknowledged the poor care and distressed it caused, and responded by sacking 5 employees. Of course, the vast majority of people in the industry do fantastic work in what can be a very difficult job, but the number of reported cases raises questions about an underlying issue for the industry.

Of course, employing a hidden camera is an extremely difficult decision for a family to make, and certainly not one taken lightly. Vulnerable family members will often be unable to speak up for themselves if neglect is occurring. Looking out for some simple signs can help you decide if there is a problem –

  • Significant weight loss in a short space of time
  • A marked change in behaviour and mood, for example bubbly relatives appearing more reserved
  • Similar behaviour or mood amongst other residents

Taken on their own these may well have other causes, but in combination they can help indicate that further steps should be taken.

iPlayer link: Panorama- Elderly Care: Condition Critical?

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