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Over 100 investigations into care home abuse in Bucks

Age UK says the figures for the UK are 'deeply distressing'.

Published by Dan Gooding at 5:48am 3rd January 2020. 4-minute read.

Over 100 investigations into care home abuse in Bucks

Buckinghamshire County Council conducted more than 100 enquiries into reports of abuse and neglect in care homes last year.

Charity Age UK has called for a zero-tolerance approach to abuse, after "deeply distressing" figures revealed an increase in investigations of maltreatment of elderly people across England.

If councils believe an adult with care and support needs is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, they must carry out what is known as a Section 42 enquiry, to determine whether they need to step in.

Figures released by NHS Digital reveal Buckinghamshire County Council completed 130 such enquiries into incidents occurring in care homes in 2018-19.

The enquiries – which can also be carried out for suspected abuse occurring in other settings, such as hospitals or a victim's own home – may concern allegations of physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse, as well as neglect and substandard care.

Across England, people aged 85 and over were 20 times more likely to be the subject of a Section 42 enquiry than those aged between 18 and 64.

In Buckinghamshire, one in every 117 people aged 85 or over were involved in an enquiry, compared to one in every 2,326 under 65s.

Bucks County Council
845 safeguarding concerns were raised about vulnerable adults in Buckinghamshire during the year

Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, said the figures were "deeply distressing".

She said:

"Some older people are being badly let down by a system that has failed to treat them with respect or protect them from abuse and neglect and this urgently needs to change.

"Care homes must adhere to the strict rules and procedures which are devised to help prevent problems such as abuse, poor management and neglect.

"Any abuse, whether neglect, financial manipulation or physical or mental cruelty, is unacceptable and deserves a zero-tolerance approach.

"We would encourage anyone who suspects that someone is being abused to contact their social services department or the police straight away."

Across England, the number of enquiries into abuse in care homes increased by 6% compared to the previous year, climbing to 47,535 in 2018-19.

The number of enquiries fell in Buckinghamshire over the same period, but was still higher than the 125 carried out during 2016-17.

The likelihood of a person aged 85 and over being the subject of an enquiry has also increased across England, rising from one in 43 during 2017-18 to one in 41 last year.

The Care Quality Commission, which inspects and regulates care homes, said it was unacceptable for vulnerable people to experience poor care.

Kate Terroni, chief inspector of adult social care, said:

“People deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and for their human rights to be protected at all times.

"We know that most people working in caring professions are dedicated and passionate about what they do, but we also know that this is not always the case.

"We will continue to work with providers to encourage them to improve but where this does not happen we will use our enforcement powers in people's best interests and take action when necessary."

Overall, 845 safeguarding concerns were raised about vulnerable adults in Buckinghamshire during the year, and 395 Section 42 enquiries completed.

In a statement, BCC said:

“It is important to remember that the vast majority of care staff work tirelessly to make sure vulnerable adults are safe, cared for and treated with respect.

"Sometimes things go wrong and these enquiries are a vital part of stamping out abuse and preventing people from becoming victims in the future, so its important that we take these very seriously and fully investigate concerns.

"It is up to all of us to protect vulnerable people from abuse or neglect. If you suspect someone is being abused act now by calling us, in confidence, on 0800 137 915.”

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