England undermined by “the commodification of care” for dependent elderly people

His uncle, Michael Pearce, had been in a retirement home near Bristol for only a few months when Ian Moss began to feel unwell in 2013. “I found him unshaven, wearing a dirty T-shirt. And when I mentioned it to the staff, they replied, in an annoyed tone, that they were doing their best, as if that excused them. » One day, when he arrived in the room, the smell of urine hit him by the throat: the old man’s catheter had overflowed. When Mr. Moss became alarmed, the orderly first replied that it was a tea stain, before admitting the obvious. After multiple complaints, in particular to the regulator of retirement homes, Mr. Moss ended up in 2017 moving his uncle to another residence.

Toni Kirlew, Be Caring's caregiver, makes a cup of coffee, alongside some medicine, at Barry Ingle's home in Leeds, England.

After a year where everything went well, under the supervision of an excellent director, the situation deteriorated again. Mr. Pearce was constantly dehydrated and often vomited. Fearing mistreatment, her nephew installed a hidden camera in the bedroom. The videos show carers a little brutal with this old man suffering from senile dementia, exasperated by his complaints, annoyed by the traces of excrement on his face or mocking the fact that he was never married …

Mr. Moss again appealed to the regulator, his deputy and even the police. Only the latter really took the time to investigate. Conclusion: even if “the quality of care seems to have been well below the expected level”, the abuse was too limited to fall under the law. Mr. Moss transferred his uncle to two other homes, until his death in early 2021. From this painful story, he draws an alarming conclusion: the care of the elderly in the United Kingdom is in severe crisis. “Nursing assistants are not trained enough, there are not enough of them, their salaries are too low… And the retirement homes are doing everything to earn as much money as possible. »

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Eileen Chubb hears such testimonies almost daily. In 2003, this former caregiver created Compassion in Care, an association intended to receive complaints from families or caregivers. In nearly two decades, she has collected calls from 9,000 families and 10,000 employees, and identified many dramatic cases: neglected patients, little or no nourishment, diapers that are slow to be changed… Or the ordeal of ‘an elderly person whose wound has become so infected that worms have developed there. ” It’s incredible, is indignant Mme Chubb. Our society is advanced, yet we are unable to care for vulnerable people. »

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