Care homes: CCTV 'could be considered'

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Media captionSecret filming by BBC Panorama shows some residents being taunted, roughly handled and one being slapped

There "could be a role" for CCTV in care homes, the care minister has said after a BBC Panorama probe found residents of one being mistreated.

Norman Lamb said images shot undercover at the Old Deanery in Braintree, Essex, were "absolutely disgusting".

They showed one resident being slapped and others taunted and roughly handled.

The home said it was "shocked and saddened by the allegations", which had involved a "small number of staff". One has been sacked and seven suspended.

Care Quality Commission figures seen by the BBC show that more than a third of care homes in England that received warning notices since 2011 still do not meet basic standards.

More than 400 are still in place but some are related to issues including management and administrative processes, such as record-keeping - rather than care and staffing.

Special measures

Allegations of mistreatment and poor care at the 93-bed Old Deanery - one of the largest care homes in England - were initially raised by 11 whistle-blowers in August 2012.

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Media captionUndercover reporter Alex Lee worked 36 shifts at the Old Deanery in Essex

Essex County Council put it in special measures for three months until concerns were addressed.

But secret filming by Panorama's undercover reporter over 36 shifts found many of the same sorts of issues reported a year earlier, including:

  • a woman slapped by a care worker who had previously been complained about for her poor attitude towards residents
  • the same woman, who has dementia and is partially paralysed after a stroke, was also repeatedly mocked and taunted by other care workers
  • cries for assistance from a resident suffering a terminal illness ignored as she sought help for the toilet, and her call bell for assistance left unplugged on one occasion
  • a resident bed-ridden with a chronic illness left lying in his own excrement after two care workers turned off his call bell without assisting him

Last November, while Panorama was undercover, the home was inspected by the regulator and passed for the first time in 18 months.

When the CQC revisited this February after being told about Panorama's findings, it found too few staff and some residents waiting an "unacceptably long time" for call bells to be answered.

'New management'

Anglia Retirement Homes Ltd, which runs the Old Deanery, said the incidents involved a "small number of staff" and were not reflective of the high standards of care it demanded.

A statement said that "as soon as the new management team was made aware of the allegations we took immediate action".

That included hiring an independent law firm to carry out a full investigation, suspending eight staff who had "not returned to work, pending a full inquiry" and dismissing "the care worker responsible for slapping a resident".

"Our priority remains the health and wellbeing of our residents and we have more than 200 dedicated members of staff who remain committed to the highest standards of care," it added.

The company was taken over by new owners in November 2013.

'Real danger'

Mr Lamb said the images filmed by Panorama "turn your stomach" and there was a case for considering the use of cameras in homes.

"I think there is a real danger that if you think that you can create a good culture and compassionate care through CCTV you will fail completely," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"But I think it is one of the weapons that the Care Quality Commission should consider using and indeed they are considering.

"I think in specific cases where there are allegations or concerns about possible abuse or neglect then there could be a role for it."

'Really angry'

Since 2011, 1,200 of England's 17,000 care homes have been given warning notices by the Care Quality Commission and more than 400 are still in place.

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Media captionAndrea Sutcliffe: "I'm shocked and really angry about what Panorama have found"

BBC health correspondent Nick Triggle said from this it would be easy to conclude that problems exist in just above 2% of homes (400 out of 17,000) and that in most cases the issues did not translate into the abuse found at the Old Deanery.

The CQC said it would work with the care sector to improve standards, but it was determined to ensure problems were addressed.

Its new chief inspector of social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said she was "shocked and really angry" about the poor care Panorama had found.

She said her "heart goes out" to those affected, but also to the "hundreds of thousands" of good care workers who had been let down by the "small minority".

"People shouldn't be getting into this business if they don't care," she said.

She said most care was good and the organisation would act on any concerns raised.

Panorama: Behind Closed Doors: Elderly Care Exposed on BBC One on Wednesday 30 April at 21:00 BST and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.

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