One care home abuse claim a week in Wakefield

Allegations of abuse and neglect of elderly people in care homes have been made 178 times during the past three years in one Yorkshire district.

Wakefield council is receiving allegations of abuse or neglect in care homes at the rate of one a week
Wakefield council is receiving allegations of abuse or neglect in care homes at the rate of one a week

Wakefield Council’s safeguarding team received claims of mistreatment in homes at a rate of more than one a week, according to the authority’s figures.

The statistics show the council had 56 safeguarding referrals about the treatment of people aged 65 and over in unnamed care homes in 2012-13. This rose to 73 the following year, before falling to 49 in 2014-15.

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The allegations included physical, emotional and financial abuse and neglect. In 2013-14 there were three sexual abuse allegations, but none in the other two years for which figures were released.

The council was unable to say how many of the allegations were proven. Sixteen of the referrals, including 13 made last year, were still being investigated.

Rob Hurren, the council’s service director for integrated care, said: “We want to make sure that people in care homes are getting the best quality of life possible and we should be the first port of call whenever anyone suspects abuse is taking place.

“We will make initial inquiries to verify facts and talk to the person involved because, as far as possible, whatever action we take will be centred on them.”

In its response to a Freedom of Information Request, Wakefield Council said safeguarding referrals involved holding a meeting to plan an investigation, assess the risks and agree arrangements to protect the care home resident.

Mr Hurren said: “In most cases, the safeguarding alert can be managed by the council without the need to use the robust legal safeguarding procedures which have been agreed across local authorities in West Yorkshire. But in a relatively small number of cases these procedures will be triggered.”

Last month, the senior official who oversees safeguarding work in York said the number of cases of financial abuse carried out against vulnerable adults by members of their own family is on the rise.

Kevin McAleese, Independent Chair, City of York Safeguarding Adults Board, said the rise in the number of victims whose funds are accessed without their consent was a “known phenomenon”.

Adding that he expected the trend to continue, he told councillors: “If I can give you a case, a 90-year-old former paratrooper in a care home has two visitors, his son and his daughter, who are rifling through his bank account but are his only visitors, so the dilemna is how do you deal with that without making him more isolated?”

Recent figures released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) showed 69 per cent of homes were failing to meet national standards for safety and care.

Tougher regulations were introduced in October to improve the way it regulates and inspects care homes. The CQC has carried out 45 inspections at 42 homes in the district since the new measures were introduced.

Six resulted in homes being judged to be inadequate, 23 required improvement, 16 were rated as good and no homes were considered outstanding.

AGE UK chief executive for the Wakefield district Paula Bee said: “The new regulations mean the goal posts have been moved and care homes managers are still adapting to the changes. We are working hard to address the issues.”