A firm of West Yorkshire Specialist Care and Nursing Home Abuse Solicitors have written to local papers to highlight the fact that the recent epidemic of Care Home Abuse cases are not isolated incidents.
The full text of the press release by O’Neill Injury Solicitors and sent to all local papers is set out below:
‘A local Solicitor specialising in helping residents and families in nursing home abuse situations has warned the recent Panorama revelation of care home cruelty in Essex is not an isolated incident.
Francis O’Neill, Principal Solicitor with O’Neill Injury Solicitors based in Utley, near Keighley West Yorkshire has warned that in his experience the number of cases is rising. ‘It would be a mistake to think that as this appalling situation arose in Essex it doesn’t have much to do with us inWest Yorkshire. I am being increasingly called on to advise and represent in this area too. Everyone who has a loved one in a care home need not rush to unfounded judgments on the care being provided- but I would suggest that they do remain vigilant’.
‘I put it down to a number of things all coming together at once. Firstly, we have an increasingly elderly population so there is pressure for places. Secondly, we have profit margins being squeezed in those residential homes. This leads to home owners employing poorly trained care workers (often on zero hours contracts). Thirdly, the supervision is inadequate- the less training people have the more they need to be supervised- and it just isn’t happening.
The unfortunate result of these pressures is that bad practice goes unchecked. And bad practice can lead alarmingly easily to cruelty and neglect- it’s a slippery slope.’
He is quick to add that all Care Homes should not be tarred with the same brush- but says vigilance is necessary to ensure that bad practice is picked up quickly and does not become the norm.
Mr O’Neill advised that there are a number of warning signs that visitors to loved ones can look out for. Obviously unexplained bruising and broken limbs need swift and thorough investigation. But it is often the less easily spotted signs that are missed- unexplained mood swings, withdrawn behaviour, awkwardness in the presence of some staff members and persistent unexplained infections.
‘Often I get relatives who are concerned about things when they visit- things just seem ‘not right’ but they cannot put their finger on it. I see my first job as to try and identify concerns more clearly.. After that I can advise them on the way to best deal with it or raise matters with the appropriate authorities or the Care Home staff directly. At the very least this can reassure relatives that things are ok- but very often matters do need further investigation and sometimes legal action’.
‘I would hate to think that – as suggested recently- all homes should have CCTV to monitor the safety of residents and the behaviour of staff’ he adds. ’However, unless radical action is taken to improve funding and training I do not see the situation improving soon- with all the heartache and worry to both residents and concerned relatives alike’.