A few days ago we watched the much publicised Panorama programme about care homes for the elderly. It was distressing viewing to say the least. I don't know what was worse - seeing patients being physically abused or the degrading manner in which they were treated or the way the staff took every last piece of dignity from them. This is an article here, written in the Daily Mail last week.
My husband and I watched the programme in horror and disgust and neither of us have been able to stop thinking about it since. All we could think was "thank goodness that none of our parents are in a care home".
A hidden camera had been placed in a 98 year old woman's room by her grand-daughter. The old lady, who seemed like a fairly young 98 year old, had told her grand-daughter that some of the care home staff were mistreating patients. Without saying anything, the grand-daughter placed a hidden camera in the room. What was filmed was beyond shocking.
The old lady could no longer walk unaided, and had called for a nurse to help her up out of bed to go to the bathroom one evening. The poor woman was becoming distressed when nobody appeared. She kept calling out and two and a half hours later, a carer (this was her job title....definitely not a carer by definition) came to her room and asked why she wanted to get up. The lady asked for help to go to the bathroom and the carer refused and told her "you're wearing a pad - just do it where you are." The lady was shocked and seemed horrified at the thought of doing that. She begged the carer to help her, but the carer ignored her plea. She left the room, switched off the light and left this poor lady in distress. The lady again called out, and eventually the carer came back with a colleague and this time they did get her out of the bed. But they expected her to walk alone. She was then chastised and ridiculed for being unable to walk, then put back to bed very roughly and told yet again to just use the pad.
I can't even begin to explain just how distressing it was to watch. That poor woman was 98 and still wanted to retain some dignity, but those carers stole that from her.
Thankfully, the film footage was shown to police and charges were brought against the staff. The old lady passed away just days after that incident. Her grand-daughter had told her about the camera having filmed her and the lady was so pleased because she felt it would help put a stop to treatment like this, so it could help other patients.
Hidden cameras discovered a lot of bad treatment, however, they also showed that there were some nice staff, who deserved the title "carer". Sadly though, the bad will always overshadow the good. People with family in care homes will probably always wonder just what kind of carers are looking after their loved ones.
Should it be necessary to put a hidden camera in all the rooms? Seems very Big Brotherish, but is it the way to ensure that someone is getting the proper care and attention they deserve? Perhaps some of the staff in these care homes need to be aware that there could be a camera somewhere, making them more aware of their actions.
Being a carer in a home for the elderly cannot be an easy job, and is probably not well enough paid. But surely the job title "carer" should give a clue to what they are expected to do. Some people would admit that they are not suited to that job, and that is not a crime. But to do the job badly is a crime.
Hopefully programmes like this will help towards giving people a better future in care homes. Surely everyone deserves compassionate care and to be allowed to keep their dignity for as long as possible. Surely that is everyone's right.
There will always be bad apples in all walks of life. But hopefully there will always be more good than bad. And hopefully, people will look after the vulnerable in society to ensure they only get good apples.