Desperate families demand answers after shocking rise in neglect and harm in care homes

The number of care home residents suffering from neglect or injury is rising as the beleaguered sector struggles to recover from the pandemic, a Sunday People investigation has found.

Some 73 worrying incidents have been reported to the watchdog Care Campaign for the Vulnerable since February 24 – when Covid restrictions ended in England.

It is feared that staff shortages and a stressed and underpaid workforce were to blame for the rise and suspected incidents range from unexplained bruises to serious injuries.

Despite the end of the closures, many visits to care homes remained limited, which delayed the realization by relatives of the extent of the decline in residents, according to CCFTV.

In a shocking incident, Olivia Martin, 92, died after suffering horrific injuries in a suspected fall at her care home that was not witnessed by staff.

Her son Raymond, 71, said: ‘We are dealing with the grief while trying to get answers about how this could have happened.

“The area has been razed. I don’t doubt how difficult it is for staff to look after people now, but here there is a serious duty of care and no one should have to die because of the problems the industry is facing.

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Olivia Martin died after suffering a fractured skull, bleeding brain and bruising following an unwitnessed fall at her care home in November


Carmela Martin)

Chi So Ngo after falling in hospital


Lucy Ng)

Her family are among 27 people receiving direct unwitnessed injury support from CCFTV since the lockdown ended two months ago – an 80 per cent increase on those they were helping with the issue before then. And the group fears that many other loved ones face similar heartbreaking cases of neglect.

Director Jayne Connery said: “As the lockdown eased, many families were seeing older relatives for the first time since the pandemic. We have been inundated with calls as families witnessed the serious decline of their loved ones. They had had no communication explaining this deterioration.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper, the party’s spokeswoman for health and social services, described reports of residents’ suffering as a national scandal.

She said: “Social workers are exhausted, stressed and overworked. Many are looking for the door because the government ignores the shortage of health care workers, the terrible conditions and the low wages. »

The sector was short of 112,000 employees before the pandemic took hold. And the crisis deepened as thousands of exhausted staff resigned as Covid swept through care homes, with at least 43,000 virus-related resident deaths.

Thousands more had to quit last November after refusing the Covid vaccine, but the decision on compulsory shots has now been dropped.

The vacancy rate in adult social care in England was 10% last month, down from 5.9% last May, according to data from Skill for Care.

Sickness absences are also on the rise, with the average number of days lost due to illness per worker over the previous year rising to 9.7 last month from 8.2 in October.

The family of great-great-grandmother Olivia said they received a call on November 15 to say staff at The Grange Care Home in Folkestone, Kent, discovered her with a bump in her eye and a nose bleed.

Olivia was admitted to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and treated for a fractured skull, brain bleeds and bruising.

Granddaughter Carmella, 46, said: “Nan was conscious and unconscious after her head injury, she never spoke again.”

Olivia was sent to another home for end-of-life care, where she died on December 4.

Carmella said: “We are all heartbroken, but my dad and his twin sister Christine are beyond devastated, they are truly heartbroken.”

An email sent to the family by the manager of The Grange says an internal investigation revealed that Olivia had been helped up from the floor and into her chair without a hoist. This violated manual handling procedures and both staff members received a final written warning.

The family complained to the official watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, and reported the incident to Kent Police.

The force said: “Following investigations, including discussions with witnesses, no criminal offenses have been identified and a report has been prepared for the coroner.”

An inquest is scheduled for July and the family intends to file a civil suit against the house.

Carmella said: ‘I don’t condone abuse, but the people doing this work are unsupported and it has a ripple effect. The government needs to start caring for the people who care for our loved ones.

Grange manager Jenny Tyas said the house operates a safe and caring environment, and staffing levels have not been affected by the pandemic and the house has remained Covid-free.

She added: “Ms Martin was a much loved resident and we were saddened by her death. We hope the inquest process will help her family understand the circumstances of Ms Martin’s death and ease their concerns.

Nearly 99,500 serious injury notifications have been sent to the Care Quality Commission since March 2020.

The watchdog could not comment on the cases revealed by the Sunday People.

But Kate Terroni, the chief inspector for adult social care, said most care homes are good or exceptional and urged anyone concerned to get in touch.

Care Campaign for the Vulnerable, which has applied to join the government’s Covid inquiry next year, has made fresh calls for CCTV in care homes, which Olivia’s family supports.

Karin Smyth, Labour’s shadow welfare minister, said: ‘People want to be safe and well looked after in old age. These horrific injuries show that too many seniors do not have that security today.

“Labour will improve training, wages and conditions to provide the number of employees needed.”

The government is to give £500million from the new Health and Social Care Tax to help train, retain and attract care workers.

“My father’s condition was horrible”

This shocking image of a critically injured elderly man, taken days before he died after falling at his care home, was shared by his distraught daughter.

Retired engineer Chi So Ngo, 84, died at St Thomas’ Hospital in January from injuries so severe doctors referred his case to the coroner.

Her daughter Lucy Ng, 29, believes the fallout from the pandemic, including staff shortages and lack of training for carers at Collingwood Court Care Home, played a part in her death.

Lucy Ng believes pandemic fallout and staffing shortages played a part in Chi So Ngo’s death in January


Lucy Ng)

She says she raised concerns about his care in August last year, saying he suffered multiple falls at the home in Clapham, south London, after moving there in June.

But she says her concerns went unaddressed and he was outside unattended on January 26 when he fell, fracturing his skull, eye socket and nose and dislocating his jaw.

Lucy, who is supported by Care Campaign for the Vulnerable, said: “I feel stripped of my father. Seeing him with bruises like that was horrible. We ended up with so many questions.

The Met Police are investigating.

Charlie Kenny, Regional Manager of Collingwood Court, said: “Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Chi So Ngo. We have commissioned an independent investigation into his injuries.

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