James Davies, Personal Injury Partner at Gotelee Solicitors, examines the latest Care Quality Commission findings around rising levels of violence in care homes.
Care homes should be places of peace and sanctuary, not intimidation and fear. We entrust care homes with the crucial responsibility of looking after our most vulnerable loved ones – and, in the main, they do a fine job.
But new figures paint a worrying picture of later life for vulnerable and elderly people living in residential homes, with incidents of violence on the increase.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the industry regulator, has reported a 40% rise in serious injuries in only five years, with more than 100 people suffering attacks every day. Injuries include broken bones, infected pressure sores and burns.Serious injury notifications for every care home in England have surged from 26,779 in 2012 to 38,676 in 2016.The figures illustrate the scale of the crisis in the social care sector, which has been beset by funding problems, care home closures, staff shortages and allegations of ill-treatment.
Relatives of residents who have suffered avoidable deaths or serious injury have called for care homes to protect people properly, train staff to respond better to emergencies, and to investigate quickly when things go wrong.
The CQC said it had encouraged care homes to ensure accurate serious injury notifications were filed, which was a key factor in the rise.
In all, 28 of the UK’s 45 police forces responded to Freedom of Information requests from the BBC’s File on 4 programme asking how many resident-on-resident assaults were recorded at care, nursing and residential homes for adults during the three-year period.
Andrea Sutcliffe, the CQC’s chief inspector of adult care, said: “People living in care homes and their families want to be reassured that those in charge are doing everything they can to support their health and well being, including making sure their services are as safe as possible.
“I am glad that care home providers are notifying us of serious injuries that occur within their services, as this openness and transparency encourages their own learning and drives improvement in quality and safety.
The CQC has prosecuted homes with the most serious failings, including a £190,000 fine for a provider in West Yorkshire last year after a resident broke his neck and died in a fall from a shower chair, and a £24,600 fine for a residential home last February after a woman fell against an uncovered radiator and suffered serious burns.
Our analysis continues to show that most care homes in England are providing good, safe care and we are seeing improvements in quality. Good care providers are those that learn from and minimise the risk of serious injuries. Safe, high-quality care is what everyone living in a care home has every right to expect.”
In May, police figures revealed there had been 1,200 assaults between residents between 2014 and 2016 – the equivalent to more than one incident every day.
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article and would like advice you can contact Gotelee’s Personal Injury Team