Inquiry call over Glyndwr care home body

There are calls for an independent inquiry into the body that inspects care homes in Wales after a BBC investigation showed some are repeatedly failing to meet basic standards.

The Week In Week Out ‘Who Cares in Wales’ programme looks at whether vulnerable elderly people’s rights are being protected by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW).

The owner of a care home in south Wales which was at the centre of the investigation failed in an attempt at the High Court to stop the programme from being broadcast.

The programme includes undercover filming at the home – which shows rules being breached repeatedly – with frail elderly people being lifted incorrectly, and the dignity of residents being compromised.

The Welsh Assembly Government says it is confident in the way the CSSIW carries out checks on care homes.

On Wednesday, it issued revised guidelines which it says will protect vulnerable adults.

But the chair of the assembly’s public accounts committee is calling for an independent inquiry.

The owners of the Glyndwr care home in Rhondda are now being investigated by the inspectorate as well as the local health board and council. The BBC is awaiting a statement from the home.

The programme is broadcast on Wednesday 25th November at 1930 on BBC One Wales.

Report by an undercover journalist at Glyndwr Care Home

Residential care is an important subject for me, because my grandmother lived in a nursing home in England for the last months of her life. But many service users do not have friends or relatives to look out for them. So I found it especially worrying to learn that care home inspectors in Wales are not enforcing change when failures are found.

Glyndwr Nursing Home in Rhondda is monitored by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales. The inspectors’ reports show that failures at the home have been found year after year since 2005, but some legally required improvements have still not been made.

I worked as a work experience volunteer at Glyndwr Nursing Home for five days. I was asked for two references, but these were not contacted. They did check that I don’t have a criminal record.

When I was at Glyndwr, the home had a mixture of 32 residential and nursing residents, with a staff of six carers and two nurses during the day. For four of those days the home was at times short staffed and the carers were rushed off their feet.

On two occasions I witnessed a lady being left for more than fifteen minutes, who had asked to go to the toilet. Another resident was left in bed all day because there weren’t enough carers on duty.

On my second day at Glyndwr I was asked by a carer to wash and dress a resident by myself. Feeling completely out of my depth I asked her for help, but was sent back without any.

I spent the following day with a registered nurse and mentioned my concerns to her. She told me I should never have been left unsupervised, but the next day I was asked once again by a carer to wash and dress a resident alone. I told her I wasn’t allowed to, but she still left me at times.

I was worried to see one carer lift a resident under her arms from a chair into a commode. I mentioned this to a nurse and she said the lady should have been helped with a hoist because ‘drag lifting’ could have dislocated her shoulders.

The nurse also said that all hoists require two carers to use and I explained I had seen carers using hoists alone. I was even asked to use the hoist myself, without the required training and safety certification.

Being a carer is very hard work, and it was clear that some of the residents were very fond of them and that generally the staff are hard-working and caring and there are clearly economic pressures on homes in terms of staffing levels.

But I saw some residents’ dignity being ignored with bedroom and toilet doors sometimes being left open in busy corridors, residents being left needing the toilet and very elderly patients being lifted in an unsafe manner.

I also had concerns about hygiene; one carer even told me that she sometimes doesn’t use gloves when she is helping residents to use the toilet.

The question we sometimes ask when visiting a care home, is: “Would I be happy for my loved ones to live here”. In my opinion, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales would need to enforce the requirements it has made before I could ever say “Yes”.