Panorama on BBC1 this evening was entitled “Britain’s Homecare Scandal”. Reporter Paul Kenyon exposed a raft of domiciliary care providers who, in pursuance of profits, employ totally inexperienced staff, pay them the minimum wage, and run them into the ground.
One man’s meals consisted of thirty six packets of Quavers. On Christmas Day, ‘Andy’ had to pour the contents of his own catheter on his carpet to relieve the pressure. Missed appointments, no bath or shower for six months. In several instances, carers held mobile phones to their ear and tried to deliver one-handed care while they spoke into the handset. A diabetic woman left from 5pm until 8am without food or drink, her carers unaware that she needed medication. Another left in a pool of blood from her rear end because her carers needed to move on to the next visit. Yet another – albeit accidentally – hit in the face by a steel trolley hoist.
The Government’s “Brave New World”, where elderly and vulnerable people live in their own homes for as long as possible, is clearly failing. Chronic underfunding, total lack of training or experience, and a laughable standard of monitoring – one carer made fourteen home visits before a Criminal Records Bureau check was even mentioned.
I don’t know what disgusts me more. That Gordon Brown and his tawdry team can possibly feel they’re delivering on their agenda, when situations like this are so commonplace? Or that even Panorama’s stark and shocking expose is unlikely to result in any fundamental and long term change to the systems that allow this kind of nightmare to happen?