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January 24, 2012

Figures Expose Shocking Level of Elderly Abuse Across Wales

Figures expose shocking level of elderly abuse across Wales
by Helen Turner, WalesOnline

The scale of abuse against elderly people across Wales has been revealed in figures showing more than 1,000 complaints against carers have been upheld in the last three years.
Despite the number of proven allegations of financial, physical and emotional abuse, only a small percentage of the carers involved have lost their jobs.

In several Welsh councils, fewer than 10% of upheld complaints led to the carers involved losing their jobs. Neglect was the most frequent complaint made by vulnerable adult service users across Wales – with 240 incidents reported to Cardiff council alone since 2008-09.
There were also allegations of sexual abuse at three Welsh councils, Wrexham, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Vale of Glamorgan.

At Denbighshire council, one carer was reported for shouting at a service user, while another was overheard to have said: “Now you’re fed and watered, I’m off.”
The British Association of Social Workers said it was likely that the true level of abuse was far worse as most incidents are never reported.
Spokeswoman Ruth Cartwright called for more comprehensive regulation of care workers. She said: “Society puts a greater focus on children than of vulnerable adults, but both deserve protection from abuse and exploitation.
“Adults who have been abused or mistreated are often least likely to be able to speak out, so it is likely that there are many incidents of unreported abuse.
“Let us not forget that vulnerable adults are also sometimes mistreated by members of their own family, who are perceived to be caring for them.”
She said that domiciliary care workers were currently not required to register with the Welsh Care Council and called on the Welsh Government to address this.
She said: “We want to see regulation of those who work directly with people in need of care and support in their own homes, where there is much scope to abuse the trust that is placed in them.”
Ms Cartwright also called for a register of complaints that would ensure rigorous sanctions were taken against offenders.
She said: “We are concerned that so few complaints, where upheld, have resulted in dismissal. The majority of workers are honest and thoroughly dedicated people who do a hard job with little pay or recognition.
“However, some people are just not suitable for this type of work, and we hope that employers are committed to weeding out these few people who take advantage.
“There needs to be rigorous selection procedures for these staff, and they must receive proper training about the often complex needs of the vulnerable people they are supporting.”
Next: Radical changes to protect elderly "on way"
A Welsh Government spokesman told WalesOnline that radical changes to the way vulnerable people, including the elderly, were protected were being developed under the forthcoming Social Services Bill.
He said: “Under the forthcoming Social Services Bill a new statutory framework to protect adults at risk will be introduced, which will encompass duties to investigate, co-operate and share information in protecting adults and to establish a National Independent Safeguarding Board.
“These arrangements will be underpinned by the establishment of statutory Adult Protection Boards, and a reduction in the number of Safeguarding Children Boards in Wales to strengthen co-operation and collaboration between relevant local agencies.”
The largest number of complaints were against carers in Cardiff, with 328 complaints proven or admitted and 25 carers losing their jobs.
The cases included 20 complaints of financial abuse, 15 of physical abuse, 240 of neglect. and 26 of motional and psychological abuse.
In Newport, 11 complaints were upheld out of 29 resulting in two carers losing their jobs.
There were several councils where no carers lost their jobs, including Merthyr Tydfil, which had 11 upheld complaints, Monmouthshire, which had four, and Pembrokeshire which had three.
Neath Port Talbot council upheld only seven of 896 complaints made against staff.
Other councils were more willing to discipline carers. The Vale of Glamorgan dismissed 10 carers and prosecuted five out of 45 upheld complaints. Some 31 carers were also given extra supervision and 24 were given extra training.
The complaints in the Vale included physical abuse, 37, sexual abuse, four, emotional abuse, 20, financial abuse, 21, and neglect, 17.
In Bridgend 29 carers lost their jobs, out of 164 upheld complaints, while in Carmarthenshire five lost their jobs from 15 upheld complaints.
A Newport council spokeswoman said: “Newport council takes any complaint against a carer extremely seriously. All complaints are thoroughly investigated.
“Safeguarding vulnerable people is of the highest priority when determining what action will be taken if a complaint is upheld.”
According to a complaints officer at Cardiff council, any allegation of serious misconduct, such as neglect, abuse, medication errors, that could potentially harm a vulnerable adult may result in a referral to the Protection of Vulnerable Adults team to investigate.


SOURCE:      WalesOnline
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