When we think of the people that need to live full time in a care home, we are usually thinking of the elderly and/or the vulnerable.

It can be very difficult for both them and their families to adjust if they have to move into a care home. It is not unusual for the family of the care home resident to feel some element of guilt that they are no longer caring from their relative on a full time basis, and this makes it even more important to them that they can be assured that the care that is being provided to that family member is good.

In some circumstances however, the care that is provided can be unacceptably poor, and sadly residents may be injured as a result of negligence. What can the family do then to remedy the situation, and to ensure that their family member does not suffer in the future from the fact that the unreasonable care has been highlighted?

Common claims arising from poor care at care homes include:

  • Pressure ulcers and pressure sores (also called bed sores)
  • Medication errors – the wrong drug/ dosage prescribed or failure to administer a drug.
  • Injuries and fractures from falls or handling errors
  • Injuries caused by the failure to refer to a doctor in a timely fashion
  • Misdiagnosis of medical conditions (the most common ones in this county tend to be sepsis, meningitis and cancers)
  • Injuries (including kidney damage) caused by the failure to monitor a diabetic patient and/or to maintain adequate hydration and nutrition in the elderly and vulnerable patient.

Compensation is very important for the patient who has suffered from some injury as a consequence of receiving substandard care. Compensation can:

  • Allow any further surgery/remedial treatment (including physiotherapy etc) to be provided in a private capacity, which will mean that your relative will not have to wait on an NHS waiting list.
  • If the claim is successful, it may result in an agreed care plan being put into place for the future care of the resident
  • Compensation may be used to help to get the resident cared for in an alternative, more suitable care home in the future.
  • Damages to help to fund any out of pocket expenses paid for by the family or the resident as a consequence of the injury suffered
  • An acknowledgment that the standard of care feel below a reasonable standard, and a look at the Care Home’s policy in place in terms of how that standard should be measured and implemented in the future.
  • If the patient dies as a result of his/her injuries, then compensation can play a role in paying for funeral expenses and (if applicable) financial support for any dependants of the resident.

All care homes vary in their quality, and it can be hard to know what qualities to look for when choosing a home.

A good care home will probably do the following:

  • Offer new residents and their families or carers a guide (in a variety of accessible formats) that describes what they can expect while they’re living there. Ideally, residents of the home would have helped to produce the guide.
  • Have a majority of staff who’ve worked there for a long time. They know the residents well, and are friendly, supportive and respectful.
  • Involve residents, carers and their families in decision making, perhaps through regular meetings with staff.
  • Support residents in doing things for themselves and maximising their independence, including keeping contact with the outside community.
  • Offer a choice of tasty and nutritious food, which residents may have helped to prepare.
  • Take into account the needs and wishes of all residents, and provide a variety of leisure and social activities.
  • Be in a clean, bright and hygienic environment that’s been adapted appropriately for residents, with single bedrooms available. A good environment encourages residents to personalise their room.
  • Have staff who respect residents’ privacy and knock before they enter someone’s room.
  • Be staffed by well-trained people, for example, nurses trained in dementia care.
  • Respect residents’ modesty and make sure that they look respectable, while recognising residents’ choice about what they wear.
  • Be accredited under the Gold Standards Framework for end of life care.

A bad care home might do the following:

  • Have a code of practice and a set of aims, but doesn’t make them a priority.
  • Offers little opportunity to listen to residents, with most decisions made by staff.
  • Have residents’ care plans that are out of date, and don’t reflect their needs accurately. This means that some residents aren’t getting the support they need with their healthcare and personal care.
  • Give residents little privacy. Staff often enter residents’ rooms without knocking, and they talk about residents within earshot of other people.
  • Have staff who don’t make an effort to interact with residents, and leave them sitting in front of the TV all day.
  • Be in a poorly maintained building, with rooms that all look the same and have little choice in furnishings.
  • Need cleaning, with shared bathrooms that aren’t cleaned regularly.
  • Deny residents their independence, for example, by not allowing someone to feed themselves because it takes too long.

It is of course difficult to accept when something has gone wrong. Here at Price Slater Gawne, we have experience of dealing with a number of care home claims and obtaining compensation for the residents and their families. We are aware of the sensitive nature of the claim, and at all times, consider the needs of the resident first and foremost.

If you, or any member of your family have concerns regarding the overall care given by care home staff (NHS or private residential), then call us for free and unconditional advice.