A few years ago, The Witch Doctor bought a new carpet and the shop she bought it from organised the carpet fitters for her.
They duly arrived.
Two of them.
They were thugs.
Loud, arrogant, insolent thugs.
The pair of them.
The Witch Doctor made a spot diagnosis.
She decided they were both psychopathic jail-birds.
She doesn’t know whether her diagnosis was correct.
It probably was.
Next time The Witch Doctor needs a new carpet, she will organise her own carpet fitter. She alone will decide who crosses her front door from now on.
This incident made her think about the vulnerability of patients who are cared for in the privacy of their own homes by those who are not of their own choosing. Elderly people, for example, who rely on the ability of managers of outfits that are unknown to them to select suitable staff on their behalf.
She wondered whether it was difficult to find suitable staff among those who would accept poor wages, were not members of any profession, and who were trained only to the level of a few essential competencies.
She wondered how easy it would be for thugs to enter the healthcare system and harm patients in the solitude of their own homes.
She thinks it would be quite easy but she has no idea how often such harm really happens.
Probably nobody does.
Many years before she encountered her thuggish carpet fitters, The Witch Doctor dropped in to visit an elderly aunt in a care home. She was confused and as dry as a prune. She was very seriously dehydrated. Her blood biochemistry had surely gone dangerously haywire. She called the most senior person there. That person could see nothing wrong and tried to fob off The Witch Doctor. Bad mistake. It was in the days before mobile phones so WD marched into the duty room and dialled 999 for an ambulance. It turned out to be just as well she did.
The staff in this care home were not thugs. They didn’t knowingly harm their patients. They were well meaning. They just didn’t know what they were doing. Worse still they didn’t know that they didn’t know what they were doing because they lacked supervision from those who did.
The Witch Doctor didn’t watch Panorama last night exposing abuse at Winterbourne View, a care home owned by Castlebeck but she has just viewed it on BBC iPlayer.
Sadly, very little shocks The Witch Doctor nowadays. Even this Panorama programme didn’t shock her but it made her very sad that in this civilised country we are employing thugs to look after the most vulnerable patients. In The Witch Doctor’s opinion, just like her carpet fitters, these members of staff were thugs, and they were creating a culture of cruel systematic thuggery within that care home.
There is a possibility that thugs are attracted to care homes and other similar jobs in much the same way that Thomas Hamilton, the Dunblane killer was attracted to taking children away on activity weekends.
There are far more bullying thugs around than there are murderers.
This means that all care home staff requires rigorous hands on supervision by well qualified professional staff at all times, day and night, to ensure any thug seeping into the system is immediately identified and dealt with. This supervision is also necessary to support those well meaning but poorly qualified staff to prevent an elderly lady like my aunt dying “peacefully in her sleep” just because she did not have a medically qualified niece who happened to pass by.
The degree of supervision required for the protection of the most vulnerable in society costs money.
Such supervision cannot be left to the Care Quality Commission
The have failed.
They have done so before.
They will do so again.
They will continually fail because they are not, and can never be, close enough to the problem.
a red apple ……………………
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