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April 20, 2011

Elderly People 'Underfed' and 'Ignored' in Care Homes (UK)

Elderly people 'underfed' and 'ignored' in care homes

Elderly people in care are underfed, ignored and abused, an undercover investigation revealed today.
 19 Apr 2011

The alarming findings were unveiled after actors were sent into four care homes, posing as residents.
Food in two of the care homes was reported to be “unappetising and inadequate”, with one researcher losing 7lbs in weight in a week.
In some cases, residents had to wait up to 17 hours between dinner and breakfast without food, according to the investigation by consumer group Which?
One actor witnessed a member of staff dragging a resident towards the lavatory by one arm, while another resident was pushed down into their chair repeatedly by the head and shoulder when trying to stand up.
One actress said: “Resident Mary left the room and the carer brought her back roughly and put her in her seat. Later I saw the carer dragging her by one arm towards the lavatory while talking on her mobile.
“The carer has helped feed another resident Lucy over the last two days and it is not easy to watch. I’m sure Lucy would eat more if this carer gave her the time to chew rather than shovelling in huge spoons of food very quickly.
When Lucy puts up her hand to stop any more food until she has swallowed, this is taken to mean that she doesn’t want any more and the food is removed.”
The actress also reported: “One resident Joyce told a carer that she wanted to go to the loo. The carer snapped back ‘this is a dining room Joyce not a loo’. When the carers judged it was time to start moving the residents out, Joyce was not the first to go, she was third – some 25 minutes after she first asked to go to the loo. She appeared by now to be near to tears.”
Pensioner groups and charities condemned the findings, describing them as a “national scandal”.
Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said: “Malnutrition, long periods of isolation and examples of abuse are what we might associate with Guantánamo Bay – but not with our care homes.
“People are paying up to £800 a week for this sort of treatment – but there is no way you could call it care. It's a national scandal that older people are being exploited in this way out in the community. We need to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. We clearly have an inspection system that isn't up to the job and a lack of proper staff expertise. A care home should be a safe place – not one where you stand a chance of being underfed, ignored and abused.”
Michelle Mitchell, director at Age UK, said: “Care homes should be places of safety, warmth, activity and happiness and this research shows that some are falling short of this ambition. Improving poor care is not rocket science; it comes down to how people are treated when they are at their frailest, and often a warm word or extra time spent in chatting or helping can make all the difference.”
The report also raised concerns about basic health and safety in two homes, from damp and dirty facilities to exposed wires and a blocked fire escape.
And there was a ‘worrying’ lack of activity in four homes, leaving residents bored and depressed.
Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, said: “Old age comes to us all, and everyone living in a home has a right to expect their most basic needs to be met. Sadly, the homes we visited left a lot to be desired.”

SOURCE:     The Telegraph.co.UK

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