Hillcroft Nursing Home: Care of the vulnerable or torture?

This blog was written over a year ago, on 28th Nov 2013 three care workers were charged and found guilty of abuse.

Just for clarity Amnesty International has outlined the techniques used in ‘torture’, these include isolation, enforced trivial demands, degradation, threats, displays of power (i.e. controlling food and hydration, physical assault).  For some older people in care today, whether in the public or private sector, that is their care, torture.

Headlines informing us  of poor care is not new, see  The Times and  Hillcroft Nursing Home. These are similar   to many other stories of elderly people  in care home/NHS settings receiving poor care, which really means they are being  abused by staff who are not caring for them appropriately.  Am I shocked ……. sadly no.  What I am shocked at is the complacency of this government on this issue.

Its not good enough to keep using the same old rhetoric, better training (what type and where from?), minimum standards (we have these but meeting them is not regulated), ‘big society'(who? me, you, Dave and Nick??) need to take more responsibility.  We have heard all of this before, and still the abuse continues.

In 2010 the Royal Medical Colleges concluded inadequate hospital care for older people condemed many to death.  In 2011 The Health Service Ombudsman  suggested the NHS was inflicting pain and suffering on older people, and was indifferent to older people.  In 2012 Bingham  suggested the  treatment of older people in care is now so bad in many cases it meets the definition of ‘torture’.  Just for clarity Amnesty International has outlined the techniques used in ‘torture’, these include isolation, enforced trivial demands, degradation, threats, displays of power (i.e. controlling food and hydration, physical assault).  For some older people in care today, whether in the public or private sector, that is their care, torture.

No wonder from a European perspective research suggests older people’s experience of ageing in the UK falls behind that of many of it’s European counterparts (WRVS,2012).

Older people’s experience of ageing in the UK can be improved, and it is all of our responsibility to try and acheive this.  However, we first need a coherent strategy to bring about the change desired by many who work with older people.  Government in the UK tend to address issues associated with an ageing population in individual ‘silos’.  Research from Europe suggests those countries taking a joined up approach where government consider how factors such as income, health, age discrimination and inclusion interact , the more successful policy approaches are likely to be to improve the experience of ageing.  However, any policy needs first to have a strong ethical foundation founded on a clear understanding of, and agreement to, promoting older peoples equality and human rights.

If you want to read more see my article in the Journal of Adult Protection

p.s here is my very first blog written in Feb 2012……and still I’m saying the same things about the same issues, I wonder how those poor residents of Hillcroft Nursing Home feel about the ‘dignity code’ mentioned in that blog?

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About digalpin

I gained my social work qualification from the University of Southampton and worked for 14 years in mental health, disability and older people services. I am currently a senior lecturer in post-qualifying social work at Bournemouth University and am conducting research on government and societal attitudes and responses to the mistreatment of older people in health and social care provision for my doctorate. My views are my own.

2 thoughts on “Hillcroft Nursing Home: Care of the vulnerable or torture?

  1. Individual responsibility is a good thing – but like everything it works best in moderation. Unfortunately our politicians and subsequently, our social conventions are so wed to the idea of individual responsibility that people forget about those who are unable to exercise it. Despite all the rhetoric, until our politicians make the stand that not everyone can exercise responsibility, autonomy and empowerment by themselves, I can’t see this changing.

    As I suspect the reference in this blog will suggest, give me a Swedish or Finnish model anyday!

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