Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Elderly routinely tied down and locked up', reveals report on care homes

Elderly care home residents are routinely tied down and locked up, according to a damning new report in UK.

An inquiry found repeated cases in which old folk were strapped into chairs or beds through the use of "cocoons" - sheets tied or zipped so they cannot move.

Residents are also forced to stay in their beds or chairs with cushions, stools, tables or bedrails used as barriers to stop them moving.

Sometimes they are even locked in bathrooms and bedrooms or strapped into chairs. Cases include neck restraints that cause bruising.

Whitehall's care standards watchdog, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, also uncovered evidence that elderly residents are kept from using the lavatory, except at times stipulated by staff, even if they are wet and soiled.

In some circumstances violence is regularly used on those who are uncooperative or disruptive. For example, troublesome residents are dragged around by the hair.

In some homes staff deal with residents who do not do as they are told by threatening them with eviction. In others, they are refused food as a punishment for shouting.

The findings are a powerful warning that old people who live in care homes are at risk of abuse from staff who are often poorly paid and overworked.

The Daily Mail's Dignity for the Elderly campaign has highlighted the way vulnerable and frail elderly people face losing their savings and property to pay the bills when forced to go into care homes - and how there is growing concern over the way they are treated.

Earlier this year the commission called for the practice of hiding drugs in residents' food and drink to be banned.

Last month the Alzheimer's Society reported that dementia sufferers are frequently left alone with nothing to do. Some homes even refuse to allow them to get up out of their chairs.

The report said: "Some of the examples of the use of restraint are extremely distressing and will upset and anger people as an affront to human dignity and rights."

According to the report, restraint is said to be necessary for safety reasons, although there is no evidence that its use cuts the number of falls or accidents.

But it found nearly two-thirds of the families of residents, care home staff and managers who took part in the survey thought that restraint should never be carried out in a care home.

Dame Denise Platt, chairman of the commission, called for a conference of managers and pressure groups to try to improve the use of restraint.

The report suggested CCTV and electronic tagging might replace physical restraint - although 250 of While restraint exists, it is imperative that the dignity of older people is maintained. It is simply nonnegotiable.

"Many situations where restraint is currently used can be avoided altogether by anticipating behaviour that may cause difficulties."

Gary FitzGerald, of Action on Elder Abuse, said: "This is an appalling situation that warrants immediate and urgent action.

"These abuses are intolerable and go way beyond debates about lack of dignity. Restraint turns care into imprisonment and we should not accept it."

Stephen Burke, of the Counsel and Care elderly support group, said: "A delicate balance has to be made between an older person's rights to take risks and make autonomous decisions and their families and involved professionals' responsibility to protect and keep them safe where possible.

"Currently, it is not clear what is 'good' and what is 'bad' practice when it comes to use of restraint in older people's care."

Care homes are covered by the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, which states: "Restraint may only be used where it is necessary to protect the person from harm and is proportionate to the risk of harm."

A test case is currently before the courts to determine whether the Human Rights Act, which says there must be no deprivation of liberty except where set out by lawful procedure, should apply to privately-owned care homes.


Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=503127&in_page_id=1770

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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