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September 2011 - BASW England Consultation Response to Commision on Dignity in Care – Call for Evidence

BASW recently (August 2011) ran an online survey on the care of people in residential homes. Many of the respondents had seen people mistreated and not treated with dignity with 81% mentioning ‘abuse’. Of course, abuse is a general term, but we take it that anyone who is being abused in any way is not being treated with dignity and that a lack of dignity is abusive in itself and certainly betokens a culture which leads more easily to abuse (cf Winterbourne View). Over half the respondents said they thought a care home should be closed and one social worker expressed concern at ‘poor staffing levels, lack of leadership, poor training, rogue members of staff, the wrong mixture of individuals leading to resident violence,’ a good summary of the issues. Over 75% of respondents expressed reservations about the placing of one of their own relatives in a care home. One social worker said of some establishments, ‘to call these places care homes is ironic in the extreme; there is nothing homely or caring about them’.

In terms of evidence, I think we need only to look at institutional scandals such as Winterbourne View and Stafford Hospital A&E to see where treating people with a lack of respect and common courtesy and understanding can lead. CQC’s annual report for 2010-11 also provides much evidence of some of the issues and states, ‘Many NHS hospitals and care homes in England are failing to give patients safe and effective treatment, protect their dignity, and ensure they eat properly’. This has led to calls for
immediate action to improve the experience of millions of patients in NHS and private hospitals, residents of care homes and recipients of social care services, calls which BASW endorses. BASW believes the commission should accept that there is much evidence of people being badly treated in residential care and hospitals and should focus on what can be done to improve matters.