Posted by: Witch Doctor | June 2, 2011

Carpets, thugs and care homes

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.



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  1. I have often mused over as to whether psychopaths are attracted to caring or are just more noticeable there. Initially, they might win you over by their (usually) charming manner and then little things, particularly the lies – as they can never quite remember the tale they told you yesterday – worry you and then gut instinct sets in as you know, just know something is not right.

    I have reported fears (in my present position) about carers twice – before anything had happened and both cases my instincts were correct. No direct abuse as such – but lies, one carer reporting that one resident had walked from her bedroom and beaten up a bedridden resident which was obviously untrue.

    She was confronted by my manager and me and easily admitted that perhaps she could have misinterpreted an event (that didn’t actually happen). However, by the time she reached ‘the floor’ she had adjusted this in her mind and told fellow carers that she had been thanked for her vigilance.

    Your statement “that all care home staff requires rigorous hands on supervision by well qualified professional staff at all times…” appears a sensible suggestion – but I must state that psychopaths exist in nursing too. I have encountered them several times.

    At a previous care home I worked with a fellow nurse and two carers and what an evil bunch they were and I worried about my registration. Despite the fact I was supposed to be in charge – I never was. I reported them to management stressing that they “didn’t care” and was informed by him that he could not sack people for not caring! I left and perhaps a year later, heard that they all had been sacked, for it appears that they had moved on from not caring to actual physical abuse witnessed by an agency carer.

    In my present position I trust my colleagues – the carers – implicitly and know that they will report any slight change in a resident for they know them well. They, like me, receive two monthly supervisions and yearly appraisals and this is the way it should be – for it shows an interest in the well-being of staff.

    I think that physical and emotional abuse by home helps – like you I am certain it will exist, care home and hospital staff is much more than anti-social personality disorder and is often that that children today are not taught right from wrong and thus are unable to differentiate between the two.

    Unfortunately – as the employment law stands today – it is a very difficult task to terminate employment of those you know are wrong’ns for their rights are paramount from the first time they step over the threshold. Every move you make has to be in writing and certainly checked out by our legal friends

    As to the CQC – as recent events would show – they are not fit for purpose.

    Anna :o]

  2. Some of these thoughts meandered into my mind too as I wrote this post. Also when I watched the Panorama programme I wondered how many of the staff started off as thugs and how many “crept” into that behaviour because of one or two dominating thugs whose attitude instilled such fear or subordination into the others that they gradually succumbed to the pattern of thuggery.

    Perhaps the meaning of the word “professional” needs redefined. I suppose it is possible to hold membership of a profession, be respected, and yet not be a professional. Can a professional also be a thug, criminal or murderer? A certain Dr Shipman springs to mind.

  3. […] After viewing the Panorama programme, it seemed to The Witch Doctor that thugs were employed to look after vulnerable patients in a particular care home. […]

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