A north Wales residential and nursing home specialising in care for elderly people with dementia is the subject of an investigation by S4C current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar.
An undercover journalist worked at The Pines in Criccieth over a period of a fortnight as a care assistant, initially shadowing other staff. She witnessed a series of concerning incidents which were captured on a hidden camera.
These included instances of important record-keeping documents apparently being falsified by a member of staff; medication being hidden in residents’ food, when there seemed no certainty that the correct person was consuming it; what appeared to be unsafe methods being used for moving residents and staff seemingly treating those placed under their care with a lack of dignity and respect.
One man was found by the journalist sleeping with an emergency cord tangled around his body and neck.
It later transpired that the man in question did not have the capacity to use the emergency cord, though the home says it’s required to have emergency call bells in rooms for staff to use.
Another elderly resident was witnessed on his knees on the floor of his bedroom for two hours before staff lifted him up because he apparently liked to be on his knees.
The home says risk assessments are in place for residents who adopt that position, and staff told our reporter the man was safe. But senior care staff seemed to make light of the situation, suggesting he looked like a Muslim praying and that he “looks a bit like me on the carpet when my earrings go on the floor ”.
The Pines has been the subject of several critical reports by Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) in recent years. The CIW, which is responsible for registering and inspecting care homes in Wales, published a report earlier this year outlining a series of seven non-compliance orders against the Pines. These were meant to have been addressed by August 3rd this year.
It has transpired that the home was again inspected by the Care Inspectorate on September the fifth this year and, according to the owners, had addressed the issues raised in the non-compliance notices, to CIW’s satisfaction. The CIW told ITV Wales that it had found improvements at the home.
But last month Y Byd ar Bedwar found evidence that suggests many of the issues that were raised in the previous CIW reports were still an issue at the home.
Y Byd ar Bedwar took their evidence to legal expert Aled Griffiths, honorary research fellow at Bangor University’s law school.
He previously worked on the damning Flynn report into care home neglect in south Wales for the Welsh Government and was shocked at the secret camera footage he was shown from The Pines.
I’m quite shocked by what I’ve seen and very concerned. If what I’ve seen is typical of the care that goes on in this establishment, then I have very serious concerns about the standard of care that’s being offered by this company.
Y Byd ar Bedwar also asked for a response from the CIW. Although they declined the offer of an interview, they issued the programme a statement having viewed their undercover footage.
Our concerns were such that we took immediate action and began an inspection, which remains ongoing. It would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment on the specific issues identified in the making of this programme at this time. We acknowledge the footage presented in the programme will be of concern to all who view it, and especially for the families of those involved. We would like to reassure everyone watching that we have followed up all of the issues of poor practice highlighted; this included consideration of the individual rights and choices of people living at the Pines and their agreed plans of care.
The care home owners also declined to be interviewed. In a statement they said “they have commenced a thorough investigation into these matters".
Since being provided with excerpts of the ITV Wales footage, we have commenced a thorough investigation into these matters. The relevant members of staff have been suspended from duty pending the outcome of that investigation, in line with our standard operating practices. We would like to highlight that the ITV Wales reporter in question was employed by The Pines as a Care Assistant and completed a full induction, including training on dementia awareness and correct manual handling techniques, before commencing work. As a responsible provider, we recognised that improvements to our service were necessary following a previous report issued by the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) and inspection in May 2018. We took immediate steps to implement those improvements. A full CIW re-inspection took place in September 2018 and CIW confirmed to us this month that The Pines is now compliant with all regulatory obligations. We will continue to work alongside CIW to ensure that this remains the case and as part of our full investigation into the matters concerned. The health and wellbeing of our residents remains our absolute priority.