Abuse in care homes has sadly been the focus of many news stories over the last number of years. Most notably in the South West were the Panorama investigation into Winterbourne View in Bristol and the Care Quality Commission’s investigation into Veilstone Care Home near Bideford. In both instances it was found that levels of care provided were not satisfactory and failed to meet the relevant standards. Six out of eleven care workers from Winterbourne View were jailed for their acts of abuse to the residents.
Just this week, detectives involved in Operation Pallial, which was launched in November 2012, are reported to have identified 140 allegations of systematic abuse in North Wales care homes.
As a nation we are always horrified that such abuse, often of the most vulnerable members of our society, seems commonplace. There are constant efforts to try and weed out and prosecute the abusers and to get the companies who allow this behaviour to continue to be shut down. Castlebeck, the company who were behind Winterbourne View, went into administration in March 2013.
However, the residents of care homes are not the only ones who are regularly subject to physical abuse in the care industry. Unfortunately, a number of people who reside in care homes or who receive visits from carers can have violent tendencies as part of their condition. As a result of this, they need to be assisted appropriately to protect those working with them from suffering injuries as a result of an attack. The person inflicting the harm is not at fault, but if there is not an appropriate care plan in place to ensure that care workers are protected as best as possible and trained to deal correctly with each resident, serious injuries can be sustained.
In 2012, a social worker in Durham suffered stab wounds and was essentially left for dead by one of her patients. The mother of three almost died because she had not been warned of the patient’s threats to kill her and no action had been taken to investigate the threats and ensure that a suitable system was in place for attending upon him.
The law requires that appropriate risk assessments are carried out to protect employees from a risk of injury. This includes assessing patients and residents who require care, whether in a home or not, to ensure that those providing care and assistance have the risk of injury reduced to the minimum level.
Cornwall County Council have this week announced that care workers will be provided with phones to track their movements. The purpose is to check when they arrive and leave their patients’ homes and will enable them to call for help and back up quickly if they need it, hopefully therefore providing an additional safety measure. The victims of violence whether suffered at the hands of an abuser working in a care home or from an attack on a care worker without adequate safeguards are hopefully being reduced and it is encouraging to see employers such as Cornwall County Council taking pro-active steps to protect their employees.
Harris Fowler has a team of specialist personal injury solicitors who can advise anyone who has been injured in a care home or whilst working as a care worker. Free and confidential legal advice is available on 0800 213 214.
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