There was a programme on the BBC last month regarding the suggestion that patients within a residential care home had been mistreated. Such stories are increasingly common and it is quite clear that those who work within the care sector are increasingly under pressure as a result of local authority cuts, closures of care or residential homes and the pressures that commercial enterprises who run those homes place the staff under. These programmes are very necessary to expose wrongdoings but they do nothing to highlight the vast majority of people who work conscientiously and diligently to provide kindness and support for elderly and vulnerable patients.
Sometimes our clients work with very vulnerable people who are violent, and sometimes it is the case that the working practices within such homes in dealing with violent patients may, to those who have no knowledge of working within that sector, do not realise the need to ensure the safety of themselves (the carers) or indeed the patients themselves and preventing them from causing themselves any harm.
For a company providing such services to managers supervising these services it can be very difficult to envisage all situations that can arise and ensure that there is a transparency in the procedure to ensure that the reputation of the carers employed by the home are both safe themselves and are protected from allegations of using excessive force against vulnerable patients.
Because those patients have little or no voice very often there is a presumption of truth in what they say and whilst that may be the correct position unfortunately the police and the prosecuting authority do not take into consideration the surrounding circumstances and the representations that are made by either the company, the managers or the staff involved in the care of these patients.
It is vital to ensure that companies involved in residential care apply the most recent standard of care and that there is a clear reporting system in place of any incidents that take place within the home that is understood by all the staff working there. It is also important to ensure that the staff feel able to report areas of concern where it is believed that colleagues or other people are abusing either their position of trust or being offered access to patients that they should not have.
It is also important for the staff and managers and the companies themselves to feel that they have competent representation should there be a need for an interview and that access to the reporting procedure within the home and the training process for staff members is understood by the police. This often requires in-depth research of the operating procedures and training that takes place so that the police can understand not only the account given by the manager or the employee in interview but can also understand that the home operates at the highest standard. It is vital that your staff and managers and the company directors themselves do not agree to be interviewed under caution by the police or any authority without the benefit of legal advice and having a solicitor present during that interview. In these cases the interview process is crucial to ensuring that should any charges arise from allegations everything that can be covered is covered. This requires careful preparation and detailed understanding by a solicitor involved in your case.
There is a great deal misunderstood about the care sector because it often happens behind closed doors. It is vital that you ensure that your staff and if you are an employee you yourself are not misunderstood and that your good intentions in employment shine through any allegation that is made against you or your home.
By James Rickard