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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Reasons why family and friends don’t report abuse and neglect

Reasons why family and friends of people who live with dementia in long-term care facilities don’t report abuse and neglect 

 family and friends of people who live with dementia in long-term care facilities don’t report abuse and neglect

“There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This will soar to 2 million by 2051. 225,000 will develop dementia this year, that's one every three minutes. 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia.” 
Of the 850,000 statistics say that 300 thousand people are living in Care Homes across the UK

So why don’t family and friends of people who live with dementia in long-term care facilities report abuse and neglect?

(Well quite frankly that’s an ambiguous statement because family and friends are complaining, campaigners like BBC Panorama and Your Voice Matters are complaining – the Local Authorities and CQC just aren’t listening and despite CQC Guidelines forbidding sanctions Care Providers are still banning or imposing sanctions on those who do complain.)

But why don’t people complain?

1) Ignorance
prevention of loved ones attending their relativesLike many care workers, family members and visitors may not understand what constitutes abuse and neglect. They may not know for example that the use of physical restraints (such as recliners that prevent people from getting up) and chemical restraints (such as the inappropriate medications) are considered abuse. They may not know that speaking to elderly people in a way that infantilises them is abusive, or that leaving them in wet or soiled incontinence briefs is neglect.

2) Absence
Family members might not witness abuse and neglect for several reasons
(a) they may visit rarely or not at all for a diversity of reasons and therefore don’t see what goes on,

(b) they see a “sanitised” version of how their loved one is treated because things are “different” when people visit


(c) they are fed a load of tripe about the condition of their loved one by those who are supposed to be providing care.

Sometimes abuse or neglect and/or the symptoms of abuse or neglect are not immediately apparent. Unless you take your mother to the toilet when you visit, for example, you may not realize she needs to have her incontinence brief changed. You may be told she is changed or toileted every two or three hours, when in fact it’s once in the morning and once at night.

Unless you dress and/or undress him yourself, you may not know your father has bruises on his back, arms, and legs or if he is bedridden, that he has pressure sores. You may not know your wife is woken up at 4 a.m. for breakfast or put to bed at 7 p.m. and given drugs to make her sleep – how would you if your visits are always in the afternoons?

Abuse and neglect may be hard to detect because they are often relatively easy to hide, particularly when people have few or no visitors, or family members are at a distance.

3) Denial
Some family members retreat in denial. I can imagine and fully understand the mental and emotional gymnastics that go along with that: “I wouldn’t leave Mom in a place where she was being abused or neglected, and since I am leaving her in this place, the care must be good otherwise I would be taking her out of there.”

The problem is, taking a loved one out of a facility means having to find a new place with all the headaches that entails. Denial can be a form of self-protection.

A 2016 survey, found that while 95 percent of long-term care residents say they have been abused or witnessed the abuse of another resident, a whopping 70 per cent of children of aging parents in long-term care facilities answered “not at all likely” to the question “how likely is it that your parent has been abused?” Meanwhile, 32 percent answered “yes” to the question “has your parent complained being abused?”

4) Fear
Families live in fear of the repercussions that can befall them if they do complain.  In 2016, it was reported that relatives of a 96-year-old dementia patient were stripped of the right to make decisions about her care under a court order – after complaining about bruises on her body.

The family were later told the care home and council were taking out a deprivation of liberty safeguarding order – which bans them from moving her and gives social services power of attorney over her care. The order is imposed where officials feel they must restrict a patient's movement in their 'best interest' and can only be challenged via the secretive Court of Protection.

5) Social Services
I don’t know nor do I understand how a government department such as Social Services can decide what is and what isn’t “in the best interest” for other people’s loved ones.  When, usually the Social Worker involved has spent less than 2 hours with the Client who would have spent a life time with their loved ones.  Yet they still feel they know best and they have the money behind them to get the secretive Court of Protection to work in their favour.

Therefore, is abuse and neglect becoming the “norm” rather than the exception?

I personally feel that systemic neglect and abuse of elderly people who live with dementia in long-term care facilities is widespread in the UK and around the world. Care workers know about it, nursing home managers and administrators know about it, and some family members of those who are neglected and abused know about it too.  Neglect and Abuse of our elderly remains pervasive and, worse yet, they are swept under the carpet.
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