Complaining families "threatened with care home visiting bans"

Cardiff-based campaign group FreshTies says relatives of care home residents have been told they would be forbidden from visiting their loved ones if they continue complaining.

And many families fear staff will mistreat their relatives if they publicly speak out against the standard of care, the organisation claims.

One concerned man told Wales on Sunday a care home threatened to evict his mother or bar him from seeing her as a result of his complaints.

FreshTies has called on the Welsh Government to introduce independent, voluntary care home visitors to act as confidential advocates for residents and family members.

The proposals have been welcomed by elderly welfare campaigners, and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) has contacted FreshTies to discuss the campaign.

Ashish Poddar, founder of FreshTies, said: “There is no good reason why care homes and local authorities should object. It’s time for action. They need to start listening to the families and residents and fulfilling their duty of care. We have a practical scheme, and they should get behind it and support it.”

Mr Poddar said he was shocked after FreshTies received 22 reports of problems in care homes within three weeks of launching an appeal for information.

Families have claimed complaints on issues such as cleanliness and healthcare were being overlooked by care homes and councils.

“Alarmingly, they say that when they talk to the local authority and they keep chasing it, it’s as if they are the problem,” said Mr Poddar.

“They are actually threatened with being banned – these are the big concerns.”

One Welshman, whose 92-year-old mum suffers from dementia and is a care home resident, said he discovered issues including carers failing to give his mother prescription tablets.

The 63-year-old, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said: “As far as I am concerned the council have done very little to investigate my concerns.

“Their attitude in my opinion is to defend the care home owners at every opportunity to the extent I was told my mum's care home might evict her or I would be barred.

“My overall reaction is disgust with the system.”

FreshTies plans to build an online map of complaints it receives to help understand the scale of the problems faced by families and care home residents.

The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) said all its inspections on care homes were unannounced.

A spokeswoman said: “Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) is committed to ensuring that the people using care services are heard, and that their experiences are at the heart of everything we do. We’ve recently changed the way we inspect and report on regulated services. All of our inspections to care homes are unannounced, and as well as checking adult care homes are being run to meet national minimum standards, our inspectors now spend more time listening and speaking to residents about their experiences. We are also working on a number of projects that will enable us to listen to people about their experiences. These include advisory panels where people can give us feedback about the way we work, and a pilot scheme to look at how independent visitors to care homes can contribute directly to the assessment and improvement to services. We are aware of FreshTies’ campaign and are in contact with them to find out more about their work.”

Iwan Rhys Roberts, spokesman for Age Cymru said: “Care homes are communities within our communities, and residents, their relatives and staff are the people who make up those communities.

“Broadly speaking, Age Cymru would welcome moves to enrich the lives of people who are involved with care home communities and that would include empowering them to have a say on the matters that are important to them.”

Visit for more details on the campaign.

Sourced from Wales Online, 22nd July 2012.