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If you take this step, you naturally expect your loved one to receive good standards of care. You want them to be made as comfortable and happy as possible.
But what happens if the care they receive is far from caring? And what do you do if your loved one has suffered an injury because of sub-standard care?
The risks of injury in a care or nursing home
The unfortunate truth is that not all care homes provide an adequate level of care.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducts regular reviews of care and nursing homes. From their findings, it would appear that significant proportions of homes are still failing to provide reasonable levels of safety, supervision, and care for their residents.
They attribute this in part to the difficulties posed by a growing and ageing population and the current economic climate.
In the words of the CQC:
“The fragility of the adult social care market is now beginning to impact both on the people who rely on these services and on the performance of NHS care.”
Such circumstances can easily put residents’ health, or even lives, at risk. Some examples include:
- Mistakes with medication or prescriptions
- Injuries from falls or careless handling
- Inattentive care of residents’ nutrition or hydration
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Inadequate supervision of residents, potentially leading to a resident becoming confused, distressed, or even wandering out of the home
- Pressure sores or other injuries resulting from immobility
All of these are nightmare situations, if you have entrusted your loved one into the care of others.
To successfully claim for injuries sustained in a care home or nursing home, it must be shown that the home or its employees were negligent in their care towards your loved one.
To establish negligence, it must be proved that:
- your loved one was owed a duty of care by the care home
- the care home failed in this duty, or their standards fell short of those required
- your loved one suffered an injury as a direct consequence of this
A care home automatically owes a duty of care to all of its residents. It is also responsible for the actions of the staff it employs. As such, establishing that a duty of care exists is very unlikely to be a problem.
Proving the other two steps is often more significant to a claim’s success. However, Truth Legal has years of experience in making successful personal injury claims. We will tenaciously fight your cause to achieve a fair result. We are based in Harrogate but have a presence in York, London and Manchester. No matter where you might be, we pride ourselves on giving all of our clients an exceptional service, provided by personal injury solicitors, not paralegals in a call centre.
In general: no. An adult who has suffered a personal injury usually has to bring a claim for themselves and in their own name.
However, there are situations in which you can make a claim on a loved one’s behalf:
- If they lack the ‘mental capacity’ required. In the legal sense of the phrase, this means if your loved one can’t take in information, process and consider it, and then you can may be able to make a decision on their behalf.
- If your loved one has sadly passed away. If you have been appointed as their personal representative you can bring a claim on behalf of their estate.
- If you have been granted a Power of Attorney by your loved one. A Power of Attorney gives you legal authority to act on someone’s behalf. However, the extent of what you can and can’t do for them depends upon the contents of the Power itself.
When a loved one in a care home has suffered an injury they might not want the ‘hassle’ of bringing a claim, or may want to avoid ‘making a fuss’. This is perfectly understandable.
However, Truth Legal has helped many people through the claims process. Our expertise and experience ensures that we can conduct your claim as quickly and painlessly as possible. We passionately believe in the good that personal injury claims can do: making the negligent party pay for their mistakes, ensuring that they don’t treat other people in the same way, and as result taking the burden off the State.
The fact is: if sub-standard care or other mistreatment has caused your loved one an injury, they deserve to be compensated. Shouldn’t those who have caused the pain and suffering be held to account for what they have done? Shouldn’t they be given a strong incentive to ensure that this should not be allowed to happen to anyone else?
If your loved one’s injury was not their fault, we are often able to conduct matters on the basis of a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement.
This means, in the vast majority of situations, that your loved one will not have to pay our fees if we are unsuccessful in recovering compensation for them. On the other hand, if we are successful, our fees will be paid by a portion of your loved one’s compensation award and also by the care home’s insurers.
If you have any concerns on how a claim is funded, we are more than willing to discuss matters with you in more depth. Please feel free to contact us.
Since October 2014, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been inspecting every registered adult social care provider – and the results, recently published, are, to quote Age UK’s Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, “frankly scary”. Set against the background of recent, shocking, exposés by the media of neglect and elder abuse in some care homes, it’s a difficult time to be considering care for an elderly relative. If you’re in that position, you need to be armed with the best knowledge possible to make an informed decision about the right care home. Equally, if you are worried about the care a relative is receiving, or discover that they have been injured through neglect and abuse, you need to know what to do to address the situation.
How bad are care homes in the UK?
The CQC inspected all adult social care providers, including domiciliary care (where care is provided in the recipient’s own home by care workers who either visit or ‘live in’) and special needs services.
The results of the CQC’s inspection that we wanted to share here are these:
- 2,600 residential care homes (out of 10,858) were rated either as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement for safety’; and
- 1,496 of the 4,042 residential nursing homes were rated unsafe. That’s nearly 24% of care homes and an even more shocking 37% of nursing homes.
Of course, this means that there are many care homes and nursing homes providing adequate, or better, care, but how do you make sure that the care home you are considering will be a safe place for your loved one? And what do you do if you realise that your relative is being neglected – or abused – in a care home?
Choosing the right care home
Making the decision to move an aging parent into a care home is difficult at the best of times. Many families feel guilty that they are, for whatever reason, unable to care for their relation at home. If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing you can do is arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible about the needs of your relative, the standards that care providers are required to meet, and spend time satisfying yourself about the provision offered by the care home you select.
The CQC offer some good advice to bear in mind when choosing a care home. This includes asking
- Does the care home involve residents, their families and friends and treat individuals with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect?
- Are staff properly skilled and capable – and are they involved in ongoing training – as well as kind and supportive of your relative’s needs
- Is the care home close to family, friends and community facilities – and are residents able to access services they would use to help them fulfil as active a life as possible?
- How well-led and managed is the care home you are considering?
When you are visiting prospective care homes, you may find it a little overwhelming, and not necessarily be able to pinpoint specifics – but if you feel uneasy about some of the practices you see, or some of the answers (or lack of answers) you receive to your enquiries, it may be worth probing deeper before signing on the dotted line. This is not a situation in which to allow British reserve to get the better of you.
There are many signs of elder abuse and neglect that you might become aware of – physical evidence such as bruises, pressure sores, fractures, burns, lack of appetite or lethargy, a loss of interest in the world or rapidly deteriorating health which cannot be explained by a pre-existing condition. You may also discover that errors have been made in your relative’s medication, or that hospital appointments have been missed or referrals not followed up. Equally, your relative may have no visible signs of neglect, but you may become concerned that procedures aren’t being followed – or you may simply develop a suspicion that things are not as they should be.
Follow the complaints procedure
Whether you were able to choose the care home for your relative, or not, and regardless of who is paying the bill, you should have been provided with details of the procedure for raising concerns at the place where they are receiving care. Your first port of call will be the care home manager, who may be able to clear things up informally, but if you don’t receive a satisfactory explanation or feel the problems are continuing, you may need to make a formal written complaint to the care home management – or to the group management or CEO if your home is part of a group.
Take care to keep copies of all your correspondence and the responses you receive, and make notes of any conversations you have and any observations you make, as soon as possible after the event. If you spot any physical signs of neglect or abuse, take photographs if possible.
Escalating your concerns
If you can’t resolve the issue with the care provider and satisfy yourself that your relative is safe, you can contact the council if they are paying for the care – and from there to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman – and if you pay for care (or your relative does) you can complain directly to the Ombudsman.
Taking legal action
Sadly, it may be that you discover the abuse, or your suspicions are alerted, too late. If your relative has already been injured as a result of the mistreatment, neglect or abuse by the care home and its staff, or, even worse, has passed away as the result of poor treatment, you may want to consider legal action for personal injury against the care home. Financial compensation will not undo the damage, but may help make your relative more comfortable for the future. It may pave the way to private medical care for your relative – for example if they are become disabled as a result of the treatment they have suffered – or nursing care at home in an environment where they feel safe. A victory may also help prevent suffering for other people in a care home where procedures are not followed or staff are abusive or neglectful.
No one wants to consider the possibility that their parent or relation is being put in a dangerous situation at a time when they are already vulnerable. Sadly, though, the figures released by the CQC suggest that if you have concerns about how a relative is being looked after in a care home, those concerns may be well-founded. Be confident that you are acting in your relative’s best interests by addressing those concerns – and don’t hesitate to consider legal action if necessary.