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Elder abuse charity: Quality and safety's an afterthought

Action on Elder Abuse told ITV News that today's report findings are a "major scandal" and said that "all levels" must bear some responsibility for failings in elder care.

It is appalling that frail vulnerable people can die from a lack of basic sustenance in the heart of care provision.

This is a major scandal that should never have occurred, and all levels must bear some responsibility, including care providers, regulators and the Government. The quality and safety of care of our older people has been an afterthought for too long.

What we need is a Cabinet-led strategy that makes this a major priority for change. We cannot go on like this.

– Gary FitzGerald Chief Executive, Action on Elder Abuse

Care home dehydration neglect: Some of the victims

As a report reveals more than 1,000 British care home residents over the past decade died of thirst or while suffering from severe dehydration, we look at some recent cases.

  • Norma Spear, 71, died in September 2010 after losing 35lbs in five weeks in Druids Meadow care home, Birmingham. An inquest found dehydration played a part in her death.
  • Josephine Cunningham, 86, won compensation from Care UK in 2011 after being left badly dehydrated at Appleby House, Epsom.
  • Gloria Foster, 81, died in February 2013 after being left nine days without food, following the closure of her care provider Agency Carefirst24, which shut with no replacement, a report by Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board found.
  • Siegfried Jaeckel, 84, died on Christmas Day 2010 at St Andrew's Lodge care home, Nottingham, with the nature of his death prompting a council enquiry. Deputy Coroner for Nottingham Heidi Connor said the cause of death was pneumonia, but that dehydration had contributed to this.


Norman Lamb: Care failings are entirely unacceptable

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said care failings that contribute to people being malnourished or dehydrated are "entirely unacceptable".

The law requires that care homes must ensure residents receive enough to eat and drink and we expect the Care Quality Commission to take swift action when this is not the case.

We want everyone to get better care, which is why the CQC are bringing in new rules so that it can crack down on poor care more effectively and why we're taking action so that company directors will be personally responsible for the quality of care their organisation provides.

– Care and support minister Norman Lamb

Charity wants improved care home staff training

A charity has warned that an improvement in training for care home staff was necessary to look after patients.

The warning comes after figures published in The Daily Telegraph showed that over 1,000 care home residents had died of thirst or while suffering from severe dehydration in the past decade.

It makes you sick to the stomach that you are handing your loved ones over with even the remotest possibility they could starve to death or die of thirst.

There is a real need for better training for those who are looking after elderly and vulnerable people. But even more important is allowing people the time to really care for someone.

– Dr Alison Cook, director of external affairs at the Alzheimer's Society

Over 1,000 care home 'dehydration deaths'

Over the past decade more than 1,000 care home residents in England and Wales died of thirst or while suffering from severe dehydration, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The figures were obtained under the freedom of information act. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Some 1,158 care home residents suffered dehydration-related deaths from 2003 to 2012, figures obtained by the newspaper showed.

Dehydration was noted on death certificates as either the main cause of death or a contributory factor, according to the newspaper.

Some 318 care home residents died from starvation or when severely malnourished over the same period, and 2,815 deaths were related to bed sores.

The figures showed that more people died while dehydrated last year than when the coalition came to power in 2010, but the number was lower than the 2006 peak.

Measures to restore confidence after care scandals

Today's measures are a response to several recent scandals in both care homes and hospitals.

They include the case of Winterbourne View care home in Bristol where patients with learning difficulties were abused and neglected by staff.

Footage captured by an undercover BBC reporter showing patients being slapped, dragged on the floor and doused in cold water eventually led to 11 staff pleading guilty to 38 charges.

The Francis Report consluded that patients were routinely neglected at Stafford Hospital Credit: PA

Stafford Hospital was also the subject of a damning report by Robert Francis QC which concluded that patients were routinely neglected by staff.

It detailed how patients were left unfed and unwashed, some of them in soiled sheets.

Read: Stafford Hospital report calls for 'zero tolerance' approach to poor care


New measures to crack down on abuse in care system

The government will today announce measures that aim to restore confidence in the care system after a series of scandals, including Winterbourne View and Mid-Staffs.

The measures include:

  • A compulsory 'fit and proper person' test for hospital and care home directors. If they fail the test, they will be removed from their post.
  • Addressing a loophole in the system where providers responsible for appalling failures in care can escape prosecution.
  • Allowing the Care Quality Commission to prosecute providers and their directors without giving prior notice.

Care home directors to be 'held responsible' for abuses

Directors in charge of care homes and hospitals will be held personally accountable for any abuse or neglect under new measures being unveiled today.

Winterbourne View residential hospital in Bristol Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb will say that the changes are designed to prevent a repeat of cases like Winterbourne View, where an undercover reporter revealed shocking abuse at a Bristol care home.

The new standards will require directors to take a "fit and proper" test to ensure they fit the role, and make it easier for the health watchdog to prosecute them where there are clear failures to meet basic standards of care.

The measures will apply to any care provider that is registered under the Care Quality Commission.

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