Are Ealing Council wasting our council tax money?

This open letter is addressed mainly to the community of the Borough of Ealing, although I am sure it reflects a nationwide discontent.

As residents of Ealing Borough we should be able to trust the local authorities to spend our taxes carefully and with consideration. One of the things we are promised as constituents, is the provision of vital social services to the young and the elderly in our area. Tens of millions of pounds are spent on this each year in Ealing. But the services do not exist. Our money has been put aside in part to provide for the security and care of our loved ones. But that money has disappeared.

Where is the money going?

Over the last twenty four months I have been engaged in a long and difficult debate with Ealing Council. This has revolved around the mistreatment of my elderly mother by several members of the local council. I have had to learn a lot of uncomfortable truths about the failings of the social care system in Ealing. To emphasize the severity of the situation I would like to bring to your attention several incidents in which the misuse of council money has been shown to result in the suffering or death of council constituents in the UK.

Well known victims have included children such as:

Peter Connelly in 2007 – Better known as Baby P. In whose case both social workers and specially assigned medical professionals failed to follow up on and account for multiple injuries concurrent with child-abuse and were therefore unable to prevent his violent death. After whose case multiple local council managers were removed from their positions by order of central government under allegations of negligence and malpractice.

Victoria Climbié in 2001 Another fatal victim of child abuse whose abuse was never acted on and whose case was reviewed by Lord Laming after the death of Peter Connelly. Lord Laming drew specific attention to the persistent failures in the implementation of social care services provided by local authorities throughout the UK.

Well known adult victims have included more recent cases such as:

Muriel Price in 2013 – Who suffered abuse at the hands of her appointed carers not limited to: premeditated negligence, incompetence, intimidation and verbal assault. CCTV footage became available in which care agency employees were shown to act in manners which evidenced disdain for their positions – such as their failure to perform necessary tasks – as well as general malpractice. The care provision agency responsible was forced to suspend all trade as a result and was subsequently placed under investigation by the UK Homecare Association.

Gloria Foster in 2013 – Who was abandoned because of “an administrative mistake” by her local council and was later found so severely ill at her home that she had to be transferred to the hospital in which she later died. The UK Border Agency were soon able to confirm that the care agency responsible for providing services to Gloria Foster was both operating fraudulently and employing illegal immigrants. Further investigations were launched into the poor administration of the social services provided by Surrey County Council.

These few names are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a terrible truth behind their media sensationalism. These few victims made the news – but these things happen every day. Instances in which local authorities and their social care policies are found to be in-part responsible for the suffering of innocent and vulnerable people are becoming more and more common. They are becoming ordinary. The same is happening here in Ealing.

There comes a time in all of our lives when we have to turn to others for support and it is shameful that we are being lied to by our local authorities: the money we invest in our futures when we pay our council tax is simply not being invested properly by local councils. It is instead being spent on huge executive salaries by an entirely self-serving bureaucracy.

Every year, a handful of executives and directors at Ealing Council take home salaries worth almost £1.5M. Meanwhile our libraries, rubbish collection, road works, schooling and social care are all suffering. And what about the support of the local politicians who are sworn to look out for our best interests? Should we also thank Mr V. Sharma MP? Many voted for him but I would like to let you know that Mr Sharma has never done anything to assist me despite multiple requests including a direct appeal issued by the House of Lords – by Lord Leitch. Even the councillors responsible for overseeing processes at Ealing Council have failed to open an inquiry into the misuse of public funds in the Borough of Ealing. So where does it leave us? Perhaps we should turn to charities and national support networks for help?

Sadly this is not the case – as I have found out over the last eighteen months. Organisations and charities are supposed to be there to help. It is true that they can put political pressure onto authorities in certain areas but I have found out the hard way that they have little to offer in terms of practical support for carers and victims. On July 3rd, 2014, there was a meeting in Ealing called “Caring for Carers”. Mr. Steve Shrubb (Chief Executive of the West London Mental Health NHS Trust) took to the stand to explain that there are many improvements still to make to care provision and that his door was open to anyone wishing to contact him. Three more speakers followed:

-  Jamie Reed MP (Shadow Health Minister). Sadly no one understood Mr Reed because of his low tone of voice and incessant muttering.

- Paul Burstow MP (Vice Chair for All Party Parliament Group of Carers). Mr Burstow came across well as his speech was excellent. However he also made a lot of promises (and as he is a politician it would pay to remember that he almost certainly does not mean what he says).

-  Dr Ann Mulroy (Clinical Champion for Carers Royal College of G.P.). She and her team also offers a lot, apparently to other GPs,  but they are hardly known to the medical community.

After that, four carers stood up in turn to explain that they had all encountered serious problems when trying to care for their loved ones; that not enough assistance was provided to them by the authorities and that they were not granted even basic assistance and “simple aid” by Ealing Council. These testimonies were met with political discussion from the speakers but this was of little practical use to the families involved and was ultimately entirely non–constructive.  As much as I wanted to stay for the afternoon session, I couldn’t really afford to waste more of my time listening to political babble. I left at the mid-point and as such I missed an appearance by Lucy Hammer (CQC). However – considering that her organisation has ignored all of my correspondence for over two years now – I suspect that any more issues I might have raised with her would have fallen on deaf ears. The same would probably have been true had I been able to speak to Ms Hilda Hayo (Dementia U.K). As is the case with so many charities, her organisation are very good at sending pamphlets out but seem to be uninterested in providing real aid and practical advice. The truth is that this is a trend in the UK. No one in power really wants to help the vulnerable.

So what about support from Europe? The victims of malpractice and negligence within the social care system are by legal definitions also the victims of human rights violations and should therefore be protected by the EU. Indeed this is true. But are the EU capable of forcing hands in the UK? Of course they are not!

I have now spent months and months dealing with the Directorate General of the EU Commission whose office has contacted Ealing Council and demanded an explanation for its failings in the field of care provision. At a first glance this seems like a fantastic thing. However there is a problem: this demand has been termed an “investigation” by Europe but it has amounted to no such thing. No evidence has been provided by Ealing Council. No one in Europe is prepared to act any further on this. At the end of the day they have ticked all the appropriate boxes for not chastising Ealing Council. They do not need to act any further. What Ealing Council does next is out of the hands of the European Commission. So once again we see people suffering because of a bureaucracy that is at best inept and at worst entirely corrupt.

It is already hard enough for us to organise proper care for our children and parents; and just a few years from now we will be in the same situation ourselves. Our local authorities argue that they cannot cope financially. However I have seen huge sums of money go to waste as a result of poor coordination and expensive corner-cutting on the part of Ealing Council.

A good example involves the employment of recent and poorly vetted immigrants with limited spoken English. My mother has seen over thirty different carers over the last twelve months. Almost all of them have problems when understanding or communicating with people in English. Although recent immigrants will often work for a low rate, the cost of replacing carers with inadequate language skills is extremely expensive. Imagine a world in which we cannot communicate with our future carers… How will we be able to ask for a drink or a tissue or something to eat when our carers cannot understand us? Why are they not vetted properly in the first place to save the waste of public funds?

Whenever I have tried to raise this issue with the council I have been met with resistance. Principally from the office of Mr Stephen Day who is Director of Adult Social Services at Ealing Council. He has held this position for many years and is paid an annual salary worth more than £100,000. There have been a number of deeply worrying and often traumatic shortcomings in the service we have received from members of staff in the department of Adult Social Services. Not only has his office failed to implement the system of timely and adequate care that has been promised to a constituent whose health has been proved to be in a state of rapid detrition – as is their legal obligation as our local authority – we have also been subject to specific instances of abuse which can be attributed to Mr Stephen Day. A great many of the letters I have received from Mr Day have contained shockingly offensive material – including racial slurs and intimidation in the form of legal threats.

As someone who has had to deal with abusive letters on behalf of a vulnerable individual, I feel that something must be done about this situation before others fall victim to the same oppressive attitude that my mother and I have encountered. Due to the severe nature of the threats issued in the letters I have mentioned above, it is my opinion that Mr Day’s office should be placed under investigation at the soonest possible opportunity.

Ealing Council have also spent a great deal of public money on solicitors bills after having chosen to threaten me with legal action when I lodged my initial complaints about the quality of service I had received. Surely this money could have been used more effectively in the first place: to provide a suitable and uncomplicated service. Instead it has been wasted on an incompetent campaign, the principal goal of which seems to have been the intimidation of an elderly woman. I believe that this is evidence of unethical practice.

Despite my attempts here I cannot properly express in writing the prolonged anguish that my mother has entered into when dealing with Ealing Council. Nor can I convey my own emotions any more strongly than in saying that I am deeply disappointed with the people to whom I have paid taxes as a citizen of the United Kingdom. The disgraceful behaviour of individuals and departments has brought to my attention a deep-running problem with the social care system in the UK. If we do not take heed of situations such as mine then we will damn ourselves and our children. We will condemn future generations of vulnerable people to depression and abandonment. Further to that: we will also allow our local authorities to steal our taxes. We have two choices: action or inaction.

I only ask that you act on these words in whatever way you see fit. If you have any advice or if you know anyone in a similar situation, please feel free to contact me.

If only – fingers crossed

Care Quality Commission

Citygate

Gallowgate

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 4PA

Telephone: 03000 616161

Fax: 03000 616171

www.cqc.org.uk

 


Mr Max Procaccini

By Email

23 July 2014

Care Quality Commission

Your email correspondence

 

Reference: ENQ1-14860

Dear Mr Procaccini

Thank you for your email dated 18 June 2014 where you raised concerns about Ealing Social Services and also about the standard of service that has been provided by the five domiciliary care agencies commissioned to provide a service to your mother, Mrs Maggini.

As you know we regulate individual health and social care providers and do not regulate the social services departments of local authorities. We note that you had complained to the Local Government Ombudsman about this matter in your attempt to address your dissatisfaction with the services provided by Ealing Social Services.

I note your point about the domiciliary care agencies which have equally provided staff who were “extremely poorly trained, not supervised and many don’t even understand English.”

In reply to this point I can say that the CQC has been aware for some time that a lot of providers, including domiciliary care agencies do what they can to comply with legislation with no real incentive to improve and provide an excellent service. This was because they were assessed as either compliant or non-compliant with standards and regulations. From 1 October 2014 we will introduce a performance rating and we will actively report on the quality of services. It will no longer be just a matter of compliance or non-compliance with standards and regulations but a matter of how good providers are at providing a service in relation to five key questions: how safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led the service is?

This will also be an opportunity for providers to demonstrate how good their service is and to differentiate themselves from other providers. It will also provide an incentive for the average performers to improve the service they provide and for those who are good providers to innovate and further improve their service to be recognised as leaders within their field. As a result people using services and their relatives will have more information to choose services according to how good they are and be more aware of expectations from providers.

Other initiatives to improve the quality of adults social care people using services receive and to be introduced by the CQC include ‘The Mum’s Test’ and the recently announced special measures where services could be placed in, if they fail to make the required improvements.

I note that we last emailed you on the 10 July 2014 advising you that your concerns would be passed to the compliance team and asking for specific information about the service providers who were involved in the care of Mrs Maggini.  We would still be happy to hear from you about any individual service provider so we can plan any regulatory action, if this is required or use the information to plan our inspections.

Whilst this letter will not resolve your current position, we hope that you will be reassured that we have noted your concerns. We would also like to wish Mrs Maggini and you the very best for the future.

If you have any questions you can contact our National Contact Centre using the details below:

 

Telephone:    03000 616161

 

Email:             enquiries@cqc.org.uk

 

Write to:          CQC HSCA Registration

Citygate

Gallowgate

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 4PA

Yours sincerely

Ram Sooriah

Inspection Manager (Interim)

 

 

 

 

“OUR” policies to do nothing.

cc.

  1. Mr Steve Shrubb (Chief Executive West London Mental Health Trust)
  2. Mr Jamie Reed MP
  3. Rt Hon Paul Burstow MP

Dear Sirs,

I fully understand that CQC policies have been set to safeguard the public best interest. Of course – there is probably no fool-proof system for doing this and I vaguely remember a telephone conversation with a CQC area manager who said that the complaints are too many and the resources too limited for it to be any other way. We are however talking about the dignity and welfare of human beings – us.

Remembering some of the many victims of malpractice and negligence such Victoria Climbié, Muriel Price and  Gloria Foster, is only a sad reminder that these ‘unfortunate casualties’ have been failed by the system. Low quality care and high doses of negligence are currently making the lives of many clients and carers alike extremely difficult. In some cases these victims also live in fear – for their lives and their jobs.

The last care agency to look after my mother was Lean On Me Community Care Services, Northolt, Middlesex. I can categorically state that, apart from one good care agency, the other four that  have also looked after my mother have proved to be a total disgrace to the trade. Most carers with whom I have worked did not speak English. One of the agencies has my hand-writing in a carer’s application as I had  to do the English test on her behalf – at the time there was no other option – as it was that or receive no care at all. This loophole is open for all the other carers too: it may well be common place for carers to have their families and friends fill in the test for them. This also means that carers cannot be trained – not proficiently anyway. If they do not speak English it means that they also do not understand English. As I have explained in the past this often results in a substandard service and one which has the potential to severely endanger the lives of care clients – especially given the relationship between carers’ fluency in reading English and the provision of vital and/or dangerous medication to clients. Even the basic hygiene and workplace safety standards have hardly ever been met by many of the carers with whom I have worked. The many incidents and general sub-standard service I have received has been repeatedly reported to Ealing Council. Just a quick reminder that we are talking about human lives here – about vulnerable people’s wellbeing and dignity. Instead of only looking at complaints as alarm bells (which is why Gloria Foster died) Ealing Council failed on every single occasion and it was two years before I was able to persuade anyone to even investigate or take action on my many complaints.

While the worrying concern is that the frail elderly are left on their own to suffer terrifying acts of abuse, it is also worth noting that I have passed on my findings to others in the industry. For instance, a researcher, assessor and academic tutor in the field of Health & Social Care and Childcare at the City of London Business College has been utterly dismayed to read my long list of complaints as she has been made aware that what she preaches and teaches is no longer an accurate reflection of reality.
It is entirely wrong of us to accuse any one agency in specific as the CQC has been copied in on many occasions regarding previous serious incidents across a range of agencies and these complaints have been ignored on all fronts. There is seriously a rotten system set up out there for many carers and care agencies. It is also wrong to point the finger at carers in specific – the truth is that incompetent carers should not be recruited in the first place. Those who are should be trained properly. And those who are neither competent or properly trained still have to work in a very stressful environment without the proper professional support from the agencies by whom they are employed. When the paying rate is often set at £6 per hour (+ tax) it is of no surprise that the work is given to (sometimes illegal) immigrants who are often unable to complain about their conditions or find work elsewhere. The reader must also remember that even a twelve hour shift is made of many hours unpaid for commuting. As I am sure you know: the real blame lies with the coordinators of this failing system.

I am under the impression that it is the duty of the CQC to take action on this point.

Here we are… We are giving the lives of our loved ones (and soon these will be our lives too) into the hands of a system that cares only about budgeting and money-making. A system that doesn’t care at all for the fundamental rights of the elderly. A system that offers them neither dignity or respect.

 Yours sincerely

 

For My Mum – A Strong Woman Who Always Endured

Nonna has died

MUM AND I

 My mother always wanted to die in her bed and at home.

This is what she did for her mother in 1962. She made me promise that I would do the same for her, and I keep my promises.

Due to her illness, she had to come to London in April 2012. My home became her home. At first she had a small bedroom upstairs but, when her disability became aggravated, she settled in the sitting room.

Over the last two years I have been caught up in something that I never expected to have to do. For two years now, I have been my mother’s carer. Systems were meant to be in place but no one was able to provide the support which she required. No one else was there to help.

 

GRIEVANCES

Of course I expected my mother to grow old – but I never expected that an innocent woman in her condition would have to experience as much injustice as she did in her final years. Those two years should have been as comfortable as possible for her. They could have been a time for reconnection and I could have cared for her alongside the professionals whom I was assured would be available to support her in her last two years. But this has not been the case. Instead, I have had to fight for up to eighteen hours every day to protect her basic human rights. I have had to open legal cases on behalf of my mother, against inept care agencies and corrupt local authorities. I have had to make police complaints about the racist abuse that we have suffered on the part of local officials and their legal representatives. Ultimately, I have had to involve the European Commission in an investigation of the care provided to the elderly by Ealing Council. All of this, on top of caring for my elderly, disabled mother.

My mother was Italian. She was born in Milan and was a Member of the European Union, allegedly a safe place in which the many Treaties and Acts of Parliament should safeguard the best interests of European Citizens. We live in the London Borough of Ealing, UK, EU. Ealing Social Services were obliged by law to provide my elderly mother with certain services that would have enabled her to live with dignity and respect. Unfortunately Ealing Council’s principal consistent aim has to save money by providing the bare minimum of services possible, even when that lack of provision has constituted a breech of European Law. For many months, due to personal illness, I couldn’t even fetch a cup of tea for myself, yet was expected to look after my mum. The list of problems with the services we were offered is too long to write here, but it is safe to say that we were all heavily and horribly burdened by Ealing Council.

Throughout these two very challenging years I received very little support from the rest of my family.

As if the lack of services was not enough, some eight months ago, Ealing Council decided that my mother should have been deported back to Italy, where she has no family or friends whatsoever. Just to make sure I felt the full and mighty power of Ealing Council, they unleashed their team of Solicitors and instructed them to take action against my mother and I (a very poor employment of public money which came to nothing as I countered it with my own legal support and a police investigation into the inherent racism and bullying involved on the part of Ealing Council). However – It took me almost six mentally and physically exhausting months and a sum of £3,000 to prove to Ealing Council that, under European Treaty Rights, my mother had every right to stay in the UK.

One might assume that there are procedures and organisations in place to assist those in such predicaments. The reality is that this is not the case.

So called “charities” such as Age Concern and Dementia Concern have proven to be both useless and spineless; unwilling to challenge Ealing Council. They have been busy “bodies” when it comes to the presentation of glossy booklets with large amounts of “proper” and “correct” information – but that information has been of absolutely no use to me or my mother in the real world.

Local Councillors have proved equally useless. Almost everyone to whom I have spoken has not had enough experience with “complicated cases” such as these – but the truth is that they are too career orientated to risk confronting the problems within  the council, preferring to ignore the issue because it would rock the boat too much.

MPs – as we all probably know – are all too good at making impossible promises (especially before elections) and are often too useless to achieve anything in the long run. True to form, our local MP, Mr. V. Sharma, has done nothing to assist my mother in any way or form, despite my writing to him numerous times.

Only one MEP has done something for my case ­– that was Baroness Ludford. Despite her clear intervention, Ealing Council decided to ignore her criticism and advice. None of the other MPs and MEPs that I contacted ever replied.

I have even been ignored by a Parliamentary Ombudsman, responsible for handling complaints made against a MPs. The system is always so keen to protect its “own”. The Local Government Ombudsman proudly states that it “looks at complaints about councils and some other authorities and organisations” but it took them over 16 months to initiate a case and come to any decision. That decision came after a great amount of my correspondence had been ignored, and, while it was in my mother’s favour, it lacked facts and was still biased towards Ealing Council.

As we are in the EU, it stands to reason that we should have sought assistance from supportive elements within that wider political infrastructure – smaller organisations that fall under the umbrella of the EU.

The AIRE Centre is a specialist charity whose mission is to promote awareness of European law rights and assist marginalised individuals and those in vulnerable circumstances in asserting and maintaining those rights. It was as if we had won the lottery as one of their lawyers, Sarah St Vincent, prepared a very comprehensive report on my mother’s Rights. However, that legal report was also completely ignored by Ealing Council in January 2013.

At the time of contacting the Ombudsman and the AIRE Centre I also contacted the Directorate-General Justice of the European Commission. Almost two years later, all that I can say is that their office has done little-to-nothing. Only recently, they had the audacity to say that the case has been solved because Ealing Council sent them a letter of apology (which I can only presume, as no evidence of such a letter has ever been made available to my mother and I). The case has only been solved on the basis that someone has admitted that my mother has been abused and neglected. That hasn’t helped anything. It has all been too little, far too late.

I am a person who fights and does not give up. I fight because I believe that our rights should be protected, and I fight because we are led to believe that Institutions and Governments are there to assist us in a fair and decent way. I can tell you that this is not the case. Throughout this struggle, I have had the opportunity to meet many others in similar conditions to mine; but they have not been able to fight against the system. They have struggled along inside the system, never getting anywhere, always suffering. The system is useless to us, it is corrupt.

It is, in many cases a lottery. As Sarah St Vincent has left the AIRE Centre and a new manager has taken over, the service is no longer available to most users. Similar to a lottery, a person has only one chance in every million, to be heard or considered. The same must be said for almost all of the many other organisations and charities I have encountered along the way. Just because I have not mentioned them here, it doesn’t mean I have not been in touch with them. In most cases they have been pretty useless, a false screen of security assuring us that we have friends inside the system. We do not. The charities and organisations are simply taking us for a ride. They take our money and provide lousy results at best.

Please remember – this is not only about me and my mother – this is YOUR FUTURE.

Yes – I am bitter that the last 26 months of my mother’s life were not more jovial. I have every right to be bitter. So would you, if it was your mother. So would you, if you were the one who was disabled and dying and left to fend for yourself.

She could have had a better time but I could not do everything at once. I could not provide her with the sort of care she wanted and needed whilst also fighting institutional apathy, professional negligence and simple, dumb stupidity.

 

MEMORIES

My mum lived through some wonderful periods but, often, her memories were full of regret and sorrow.

She lost her father when she was 19 and she didn’t get on well with her mother.

She endured the painful bombardment of Milan during the Second World War and often spoke about the rats in the streets and the people’s screams, coming from under collapsed buildings.

Then, from 1950 to 1970 she led a very elegant and prosperous life, which she enjoyed in many different ways.

In 1970 her husband (my father) died and both her daughter (my sister) and I left Italy.

I had little communication with her in the following years, but, despite fighting cancer in 1990, she managed to enjoy much of her life and was full of fond memories of her father and her husband.

In the last two years of her life she had no friends left and not much of a family either: there are two siblings and five grandchildren, and that is all.

At this point, one should say that one’s mum was a vibrant soul, the sort of person who literally lit up the room whenever she came through the door. But this was not the case. Instead, I remember mum as a person with a very strong and determined character – and maybe that was inherited from her Slavic grandmother.

Mum had absolutely no interests whatsoever in the last 15 or so years of her life – apart from buying scratch cards. Conversation and interaction with others was always a problem for her – she preferred her own her monologue.

And so my lasting memories of mum are simple: a hard-working, passionate figure of strength who soldiered on, even when times were tough.

She was very much there for us and she cared for us a great deal when we were little.

Mum, thank you for everything you’ve given us – and for the warmth we shared during your precious time on earth.

For EU Justice the case is solved ??

  • To: Directorate General  Justice, European Commission, Brussels

“Justice, Fundamental Rights, Discrimination, EU Citizenship”

  • cc. – Paul Nemitz, Director – Fundamental Rights and Citizenship – European Commission

 

Dear Sirs,

This is a direct reply to your letter, dated 6th June 2014.

In previous correspondence you advise that I maintain contact with you should the situation fail to improve. You suggest that I should reply to you “within four weeks of the date of this letter” if “there still is an infringement”.

I am writing to you now to confirm that there is still a serious infringement and, as a result, I wish you to continue investigating this case.

Quoting paragraph seven (5), line one (1) of your letter, I also wish to dispute your observation that my “problem has now been solved.”

I would like to argue that this is not and has never been the case. I would also like to provide information to evidence that there have been further infringements, suggesting that there have been insufficient consequences of your initial enquiry. Finally, I would like that enquiry to be continued and its efforts redoubled (on your part) so as to put an end to the mistreatment of a vulnerable individual (my mother) as a result of malpractice on the part of a civil authority within the Union (Ealing Council) towards a European Citizen.

While I understand that the European Commission is very busy with a multitude of cases from all over the Union, it is also paramount that justice, fundamental human  rights and citizenship policies based on Europeans’ most cherished values and principles, such as democracy, freedom, tolerance and the rule of law are respected by all members.

After over 24 months of misery I feel that even suggesting that “the problem has been solved” is something of a disgrace. There are various reasons for this and I will explain them now. In order to do so, I would like to bring to your attention a simple analogy:

A child needs foster care and this is provided to him or her by a local authority within the EU. However, while in care the child is abused sexually and mentally. That abuse is noted and is investigated by all the relevant bodies including the EU Commission. After assessment, the Child is provided with new carers. The abuse has been solved in the first instance. New carers have been sent to replace the previous carers – but the child is till abused. This is allowed to happen because nothing has done to ensure that the new carers will not also be abusive. In this case the problem has only been avoided on paper, not solved in real life.

This is not unlike my mother’s situation. She has been moved from agency to agency by Ealing Council but five (5) care agencies and thirty five (35) carers have not been enough to resolve the problem. In this situation, your suggestion that the problem has “been solved” implies that the abuse itself and its lasting effects are not of any relevance to your moral and civil duties, so long as you receive a letter of apology from Ealing Council! You seem to believe that the problem has gone away simply because someone in the UK tells you that “a degree” of care is being provided.

My mother is not a child, but she is very vulnerable. The abuse she has suffered is of the same magnitude as it would be in a case of child abuse. The abuse has not stopped, was never resolved in the first place and is still ongoing.

Should I therefore assume that your office has taken note of abuse but has failed to deal with its source? Is this the Directorate-General’s attitude towards human rights abuse? Are human rights abuses really condoned by the Directorate-General of the EU Commission?  If the Directorate-General condones the abuse of citizens of the Union then I ask you please to say so, now, in writing. If so, I will cease to bother you on this point. However, it is my reasonable assumption that this is not the case. I must therefore assume that it is your duty to take action against all instances of abuse which are brought to your attention, and to do so in a conclusive manner.

As the abuse which took place between April 2012 and May 2013 has never been fully investigated by your office, I must reemphasize that the problem has not been sufficiently or fully resolved. I must conclude that the case should not be closed until further investigations have taken place.

In your letter you ask to get in contact with you if there “is still an infringement.”  Complying with your request, I have detailed some unresolved infringements below. These are divided into sections and one for past infringements that have not been fully dealt with and one for present infringements of which you are unaware.

It is clear from information that your inquiry has been largely ignored by Ealing Council.

Unresolved Past Infringements

Over the last two years Ealing Council Adult Social Services have ignored their responsibility to my mother’s fundamental human rights.

Not only have they appointed a series of appalling care providers, they have also persisted in adding unnecessary stress to the situation; for well over five months, their solicitors have continued to insist that my mother should be deported. As you will understand, this has placed tremendous emotional and financial pressure on the whole family. That has included the costs of legal and medical support in our argument with Ealing Council. Stress has also been incurred in the wake of a police enquiry into the racial abuse that my mother has suffered on the part of representatives of Ealing Council. That stress has led to the worsening of her condition. This has been identified by my legal representatives as a form of psychological bullying. The medical repercussions of this bullying are tantamount to torture; as such this process of intimidation has constituted a sustained and unresolved abuse of human rights on the part of Ealing Council.

My mother has had to endure continuing mental and physical abuse equivalent to examples drawn from the concentration camps.

Examples include times when my mother has been starved by her carers because they have been extremely late to their appointments, have failed to arrive at all or have been too preoccupied with other things to bother feeding my mother. Other examples have included times when insufficient care has been provided due to further negligence, during which my mother has fallen or otherwise hurt herself because of a carer’s lack of awareness. Indeed, there is a long list of negligence and malpractice on the parts of various carers (some thirty five (35) of them across four (4) care agencies, within a period of three (3) months.

All of this has been noted and complained about, yet there have been almost no repercussions. There have been numerous meetings but none of them have produced adequate results.

For some details of my original complaint you may wish to revisit my original email, addressed to Ms. Chiara Adamo on 31.01.2013. 

It is my firm belief that Ealing Council need to be ‘accurately’ re-investigated. 

Unresolved Present Infringements

My mother’s health has changed a great deal since 22nd May 2014. She is no longer able to perform any tasks on her own. We have been asking for further (more) assistance since June 8th. The carers we have been provided cannot cope any longer. They cannot finish their tasks. Ealing Council have been made well aware of this but they have failed to respond with anything helpful and have been delaying and ignoring our requests for help.

Furthermore, they have ignored the advice of medical professionals who have advised that the only humane answer lies in the provision of a carer who can work with my mother on a twenty-four-seven basis (24/7).

Due to the lack of appropriate care provision by Ealing Council we have had to call the emergency services regularly and ambulances have been sent to my mother as many as six (6) times out of ten (10) days. Not only has my mother suffered because of this – this is also a huge waste of time and money for the NHS. Each time an ambulance has been dispatched to help my mother, there has been one less ambulance available for other service users. Despite my complaints, this has also been ignored by Ealing Council. This is a clear instance of negligence as both my mother’s and the wider public’s needs are being ignored by Ealing Council.

Ealing Council have failed to respond to requests from a GP, from professional nurses, from care agencies and from health specialists, all of whom have indicated that the care provided to my mother is severely substandard. Simply put – we are all being ignored by Ealing Council.

This ignorance constitutes a continued infringement and I feel – absolutely – that it merits further investigation. I must remind you that, in the professional environment, this ignorance constitutes malpractice and, because it concerns the care provided to a vulnerable person, it is tantamount to an abuse of human rights.

I must reiterate that things have not improved. My mother is still suffering and it is still the fault of Ealing Council.

Request for Additional Information

In addition to my documentation of the unresolved infringements (discussed above), I would like to request additional information from your office. I feel that it is important that I remain well informed as this information may be of use to my case here in the UK.

Initial enquiries were opened in January and February 2013 but there was no formal acknowledgement of my mother’s ongoing suffering until May 2013. Furthermore, it was then agreed that a response was due from the UK authorities by August 2013. Yet nothing was done until May 2014. I would like to know why it took the relevant authorities more than three (3) months to accept that there was a problem with the care provided to my mother, and I would like to know why there were little to no repercussions when the UK authorities failed to deliver a response within the given time.

Would you kindly be able to answer this question, please: Why have I never been shown any of the correspondence between the EU Commission and the UK authorities?

In addition, I would like to request a copy of the information supplied to you by the UK authorities and/or Ealing Council.

Moving Forwards

Returning to my main point – it is obvious that Ealing Council have not acted to improve the situation.

It is utterly wrong in any situation involving abuse to say that Ealing Council should not be considered responsible for all the heartache as well as the mental and physical duress that my mother and I have had to go through, just because they have written to you to say that “some sort of care” has been provided. “Some sort of care” was indeed provided, but it was provided alongside fundamentally damaging instances of malpractice.

It is for this reason that I am contacting you again, to ask that you continue and strengthen your investigation.

I made many complaints about Ealing Council between April 2012 and October 2013. This side of the matter has partially been addressed, some eighteen (18) months later by the local Ombudsman. They are also stating that there have been serious failures in the services provided. Moving forward, the issue that the Directorate-General should be concerned with, is that the Lisbon Treaty and other European Legislations should correctly be interpreted and applied to all Citizens with a view to the improvement of the everyday lives of citizens in the EU.

Ealing Council have been in breach of their duties, they have acted with arrogance and impunity, and they have ignored their requirements to work within the proper parameters of legislation. In their self interested ignorance and arrogance, they have brought serious harm to an elderly woman and to members of the same family, all of whom are Citizens of the EU.

Furthermore, by putting aside my original complaint, the Directorate-General risks the creation of a precedent in which the British authorities are allowed to discriminate at will against the Citizens of any Member State.

Once again, therefore, I kindly ask your office to reconsider your position on this case. I ask that you please implement and act upon the founding principles of the union you represent and that you come to the defend the human rights of my mother, an elderly citizen of the EU.

Please do not close this case. Instead, request further information from and apply further pressure to the UK authorities.  Please consider this of the utmost importance. This is a human rights case and it cannot be ignored.

Many Thanks

Kind Regards

A B M Procaccini

 

EU – does it do anything?

The European Commission on 5th March 2014, wrote to me stating that a reply from the UK Government is well overdue. Seven weeks later and, still no news. With the email below, sent today, I am still trying to find a resolution to my 2012 and 2013 complaints. I view the “systems” like a colander – leaking water everywhere.

 

Sent: 18 April 2014 13:33

To: ‘Michal.MEDUNA@ec.europa.eu’
Cc: ‘Chiara.ADAMO@ec.europa.eu’; ‘Jeffrey.LAMB@ec.europa.eu’; ‘Sarah Ludford MEP’; ‘editor@observernewspapersni.com’; ‘mailonline@newspaperdirect.com’
Subject: RE: 5158/13/JUST

Dear Mr. Meduna,

On many fronts, Europe (and the EU) are disintegrating. Almost ONE year ago you have asked the British Government for comments about my case; to-date they have failed to respond.

The British attitude is, without a doubt, a mockery of the system (if there is one) . Laws and Legislations are only applicable to selected people and events.

These British offices that you have contacted, must (I assume) exist!? Room 101 or whatever & wherever they are, they must have an address and, hopefully, a person; someone responsible to reply to your queries. Could you please tell me who and where they are?

If all failures to respond are met by apathy it is fair to notice the ineffectiveness of actions taken or the futility of certain “offices”. I am still hoping that, eventually, there will be a reply regarding my case and I can wish a good and sensible turnout to the next elections.

Kind Regards
A B M Procaccini
(Facebook + Blog)

 

From: Michal.MEDUNA@ec.europa.eu [mailto:Michal.MEDUNA@ec.europa.eu]
Sent: 05 March 2014 12:49
To: max
Cc: Chiara.ADAMO@ec.europa.eu
Subject: RE: 5158/13/JUST

Dear Mr Procaccini,

Thank you for your latest e-mail.

I regret to inform you that we have not yet received any reply from the UK authorities that are now well past the deadline.

On 26 February 2014 we urged the UK authorities to reply as quickly as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Michal MEDUNA (Mr)
Policy Officer

Unit C.2 Union Citizenship and Free Movement
Directorate-General Justice
European Commission

GPs and NHS up the wall?

The GPs have become “Vending Machine” for the pharmaceutical industry and the word PREVENTION does not exist in their dictionary. No matter what is wrong with you, Paracetamol is the answer (or Statins or anti-depressants). GPs are all too quick to prescribe medications (for stomach ulcer, for example) without carrying out proper tests and considering all side-effects. We must all remember that side effects very often lead to other problems and… to more medications. Many patients are happy to take palliatives and tests show that even placebos sometimes work better than the actual drug.  I am disappointed with my local surgery because proposed alternatives are, very often, leading to wasting my time, they are not addressing the causes and eventual remedies to my complaints, and are wasting resources and money for the whole NHS. To follow is my letter to the surgery….

 

Dear Ms. S.

I am writing to you to inform you that I have not received satisfactory service from your surgery. This letter should be considered an official complaint. I fully understand that your surgery follows general guidelines and I am aware that you are often over-stretched and that you are also under all the usual pressure to deliver the best service possible. Indeed I am generally reluctant to use your surgery because I do not wish to waste either my time or yours. I consider you to be an emergency option – however, and as such, I expect you to offer professional solutions.

Firstly – I have now received four standardised letters from your surgery telling me that you do not have my blood pressure on your records. You should have this information because a) I have given you the information in the past and, b) my blood pressure has also been checked by the doctor. I don’t know how many patients you have but if you are experiencing this problem with even a small number of people then you are wasting your resources – time and money.

Secondly – your referrals have proved to be a disaster on many occasions and there has been a general lack of understanding on the part of the doctor(s) as to what my final aim is or will be. For instance, if I ask to see a dietician, it is probably because I need to lose some weight as I am obese. But if I also mention that I am concerned with my metabolism, the doctor should know that the dietician is not the right person for me to see. This has finally been worked out by your staff but, in the mean-time, I have been passed around from referral to referral and this has been an utter waste of time (and NHS resources). I doubt that mine is an isolated case and I suspect that a great deal of time and money has been expended on badly estimated and ultimately unnecessary referrals of this sort at your surgery.

Thirdly – recently I have been on the receiving end of negligent decision made by your doctors. If I telephone the surgery requesting a morphine injection from the GP it is sensible to assume that there is a rational reason for my request – that I am probably in serious pain. In this instance I have also informed the GP that I have been taking Tramadol (2 x 50mg every 8 hours) for the last 24 hours, which should be a good enough indication of the severity of the pain.

As per NHS guidelines:

  • Step 3 (moderate to severe pain)  = morphine injection 10mg/mL, 15mg/mL, 20mg/mL, 30mg/mL: see BNF

The GP should “remember” that I have access to MST (morphine sulphate) and Temgesic (buprenorphine) tablets. It seems sensible to assume that a person in my position might decide to take such tablets should the pain continue unabated. The only reason that I am not taking them is because they give me headache and do not take away my symptoms – and I know this from experience. Suggesting that I take utterly redundant co–codamol only shows indifference and an uncaring stance on the part of the doctor and – worryingly – a lack of concern about the other medication a person such as myself might take should the doctor refuse to help in a difficult situation such as this.

Fourthly – there have been a number of worrying incidents concerning my mother who is also patient at your surgery. I am currently her primary carer and I was promised that a GP would come to see her four weeks ago. This has not yet happened – despite three repeat requests! I have also made three requests for my mother to be seen by a Counsellor. These have fallen over a two month period. I have not heard back on this either. There are numerous reasons for such requests and I will gladly discuss them with anyone at the surgery should they be prepared to listen. Neglecting my mother will only increase her dissatisfaction and my own. I strongly believe that a counsellor will be able to generate a positive experience, rebuilding and renovating aspects of her life. As I am also suffering from chronic stress – and because there is a clear antipathy between my mother and myself – the presence of a counsellor would give me more “space” in which to look after my own health while still guarantying her with her wishes of an independent life.

Fifthly – I am the patient and should seem like an ignorant party when compared to my GP. Why then is it  that when I mention LDL [subclass phenotype A]  and [subclass phenotype B], PCS or Mirizzi syndrome, the GP has no idea what I am talking about? Does this mean that my levels of LDL type-B will never be found out – ? – or that my cholecystectomy is just part of some previous life?

Finally – I understand that your being explicit about the problems of your patients may cause offence in some instances; nonetheless, I expect a sincere and frank attitude from my GP. You will achieve nothing by treating me like a child. For instance – should I refuse to take Statins; it is because I have what I deem to be good and valid reasons for not doing so. And should you wish to argue the contrary with proven details – i.e. not those of the Allhat study, Ascot-LLA trial or Jupiter trial – then I will gladly listen. There has been no attempt to do so on your part. Instead your staff has reiterated the same tired arguments.

In conclusion – the service delivered by your surgery has been severely lacking in the above instances. Generally speaking, the level of professionalism from almost all of your doctors has been excellent when compared to other surgeries in the area and I will not move on, yet. However – I must stress that I need solutions.

I am coming to the end of my personal capacity to deal with this situation. If nothing improves I feel that I may have to involve an external party in order to take this complaint further. I really hope that this does not become a necessary course of action!

I very much enjoyed a lengthy conversation with the senior doctor at your surgery some six months ago. She has always been very caring and understanding. It is a real shame that she has decided to retire. I am always available and happy to communicate should your current management wish to respond.  I sincerely hope that you do.

Please note that I have not mentioned any names in my letter because it will also be published on my blog and NHS websites.

 

Yours sincerely

LGO – A Final Decision

The Adjudicator maybe has some 20 files/cases to look after at any one time (my finger of blame points to “management”). This is probably why it has taken her 10 months to come up with a final decision; a series of complaints that were originally logged in November 2012 (16 months ago).

Councils and the Ombudsman wish is to take away your energy, your will to fight against a corrupted and wasteful system. Out of every 1000 cases, probably only a handful reach some kind of resolution. Due to my perseverance I have been one of the “lucky” ones. My cost has been my deteriorating health, but I feel it was worth it.

Severe cases make it to the headlines and yes, we should all be outraged that it takes months, even years, to get attention and, finally, a decision. The decision is far from being flawless but, perhaps in my naïve way, I hope that this will give the courage and the determination to others not to give up.

 

25 March 2014

Complaint reference: – 13 001 803

Complaint against: London Borough of Ealing

The Ombudsman’s final decision
Summary: The Council was at fault in the quality of the home care it provided to Mrs Y and in the way it dealt with Mr X’s complaint about this. It has agreed to take action to improve the quality of care and complaints handling, and to put right the injustice to Mrs Y and Mr X.

The complaint
1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, is the main carer for his mother, Mrs Y. He complains about the quality of care provided to Mrs Y at home. He says carers:
• Do not stay the full time.
• Do not carry out the tasks agreed.
• Do not arrive at the times agreed.
• Do not carry out tasks properly. For example:
a) cleaning the toilet and then using the same gloves to handle food.
b) leaving the front door open.
c) administering medication wrongly.
d) leaving his mother without food because they are unable to communicate with her to find out what she wants.
e) falsifying records to say tasks have been done when they have not.

2. Mr X also says that:
• Assessments have not been carried out as expected.
• Different carers come all the time.
• The change to a new care agency caused an “escalating series of incompetence, neglect and extremely poor communication”.
• There is a lack of capacity in suitable carers with suitable skills.
• His mother needs a carer who speaks in her own language and the Council does not recognise this.

3. Mr X also complains about the way the Council dealt with his complaint. He says he thinks the care plan is fine and with the right carers he would be happy. He just wants his mother to be looked after and direct payments would enable her to employ her own choice of carer.

The Ombudsman’s role and powers
4. The Ombudsman investigates complaints of injustice caused by maladministration or service failure. She cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. She must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3))
How I considered this complaint
5. I have considered information from Mr X and from the Council.
6. I consulted with our legal team.
7. I have provided both parties with copies of my provisional view for comment.

What I found
Background
8. Where a local authority exercises a function entirely or partly by means of an arrangement with another person or body (in this case a care provider), the local authority ultimately retains responsibility. Any recommendations the Ombudsman makes following an investigation into devolved functions are for the council to implement, rather than the person or body acting on its behalf.
9. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is responsible for registering and regulating care providers.
10. The section 20 regulations of the Health & Social Care Act 2008 (HSCA (2008) include:
• Regulation 9 which says “The registered person must take proper steps to ensure that each service user is protected against the risks of receiving care or treatment that is inappropriate or unsafe”.
• Regulation 17(h) which says that care providers should “take care to ensure that care and treatment is provided to service users with due regard to their age, sex, religious persuasion, sexual orientation, racial origin, cultural and linguistic background and any disability they may have”.
11. The Council’s contract team has a routine monitoring programme which includes monthly returns from providers. The Council provides guidance to providers on completing the return and it covers a suitably wide range of criteria under the headings: service delivery; quality assurance; staffing levels; training and supervision. It requires feedback from the electronic telephone monitoring system which records the time of arrival at the user’s home and time of departure. The return must be submitted within a specific timeframe or sanctions may result.
12. The home support services are arranged under a framework agreement with detailed specification.
13. Mrs Y is severely sight impaired and deaf; she does not speak English. She came from another country to live with her son, Mr X, and his family in April 2012. Mrs Y was assessed and received support from a care agency arranged by the Council.
14. Mr X is Mrs Y’s main carer. He was unwell from April to August 2012 and struggled to care for his mother during this period; he spent much of this time on strong painkillers and unable to walk without support. He says Mrs Y was unsettled by the change of environment and this caused her to have daily outbursts of anger and aggression.
15. Mrs Y was assessed again in September 2012 and April 2013. Mrs Y’s support plans from October 2012 to May 2013, clearly set out her needs with details of the support she needed with detailed instructions.
What happened
16. On 27 September 2012, the Council assessed Mrs Y and found her to need two personal care calls per day. It found she was at high risk of falls and needed intensive support requiring constant or near constant presence of at least one other person. It found her needs were such as to have a very severe impact on the main carer’s independence.
17. Mr X says the care agency was fine and the staff “superb” until they needed a weekend carer. This carer was unsuitable and he complained. The agency withdrew its services from Mrs Y. Mr X felt this would not have happened if the Council had dealt with it better. The agency said Mr X had been insulting and used offensive language; Mr X disagrees.
18. On 4 November 2012, Mr X emailed the Council asking it to include various tasks in Mrs Y’s care package. The Council responded the same week explaining the tasks had not been agreed and that the aim of support is to maintain independence not increase dependency. It recognised the pressure and stress felt by Mr X and reiterated its offer of various services including respite, day centre, extra care housing and residential care.
19. Three days later, Mr X emailed the Council who responded the same day. Mr X complained there was no food for his mother and no medication; he said the previous agency was willing to reinstate the package and asked for it to be transferred back. The Council explained arranging for medication to be available was not part of the care plan and not something the Council deals with. It said it was not normal business practice to take a package away from a provider that had just taken it on. The Council also said Mrs Y had only one domestic call a week and that was six days ago. It asked whether the carer bought enough food, and who drew up and agreed the weekly shopping list. It asked Mr X to let it know about the outcome of his discussion with the agency about this. Mr X was not happy as he thought the Council should be dealing with his complaint and should consider reinstating the previous agency for the benefit of his mother’s health and wellbeing.
20. The Council responded and asked if Mr X wanted the Council to pursue the complaint about food with the agency. It said “whilst living in the same house, choosing not to feed your mother could have serious consequences for both your mother and you. Mr X pointed out that living under the same roof did not mean he was there with her and she should be getting the support for that reason.
21. An Occupational Therapist assessed Mrs Y on 14 November 2012 and equipment was provided to reduce the risks to her.
22. A new care provider was commissioned as a result of Mr X’s complaints.
23. On 9 January 2013, a safeguarding adults’ investigation was begun. This followed Mr X’s allegations that carers had missed calls and Mrs Y had been left without food and medication. He said carers did not know what they were doing and could not communicate with Mrs Y. Mr X complained there was a different carer almost every visit. The Council transferred Mrs Y’s care to another agency.
24. On 21 January 2013, Mr X complained to the Council. He said:
• They had a different carer almost every other visit.
• Carers had little or no knowledge of what they should be doing.
• Many tasks were not being completed because of language barriers.
• Carers come at times which are more suitable to them, not as agreed.
• Carers do not perform all tasks and leave before they should.

25. Mr X gave examples of the problems with the carers. The list was extensive and included:
• Using the same gloves to clean the toilet and handle food.
• Leaving gas on the cooker for several hours.
• Wrong administration of medication.
• Asking for money from the family.
• Leaving the front door open.

26. He said there was no point in raising the issues as he felt the previous arrangement had been terminated because he complained.
27. The Council changed provider four times by the end of January 2013. Mrs Y had previously had one carer, from the first agency, who lasted from June to October 2012. Mr X says she was providing an excellent service so it was possible to get suitable carers.
28. The Council gave an interim response to Mr X’s letter on 7 February 2013. It said:
• There had been difficulty covering calls after Mr X had asked for a regular carer to be removed.
• All carers had been trained and were signed off as competent carers.
• All carers speak English; a minimum requirement. The support plan is displayed in the house and tasks are logged and signed off by Mr X or Mrs Y.
• Call times were being looked at through the safeguarding investigation. Time sheets had been requested and will show the time spent on each call.
29. On 19 March 2013, the Council wrote to Mr X to offer a fresh start and meeting with a senior manager.
30. In April 2013, Mr X made several complaints about the carers. He asked for one to be changed because she was too small to lift Mrs Y; he said others were late or did not stay for the full time. The care provider refused to change the first carer because the support plan did not include lifting Mrs Y and there were no other suitable carers available. The Council investigated and found while several calls were late or shorter than planned, there were also several visits which were longer than planned. Mr X disagrees with this and says the electronic monitoring does not work properly. The agency upheld part of Mr X’s complaint in respect of some late calls and offered to change one of the carers; Mr X said he would prefer to keep that carer. The Council apologised for the occasions where the calls had not been within the time planned and said it had addressed it with the agency.
31. On 16 April 2013, the agency gave the Council notice that it would terminate the provision of care to Mrs Y. It said a number of carers would not work on this package because they felt Mr X was not happy with the service; it felt the relationship with Mr X had broken down and he had lost trust in the agency. The agency agreed with the Council it would continue to provide a service until alternative arrangements could be made.
32. Mr X referred to previous complaints about the carers provided by this agency. These included complaints about how the carers served meals, broken equipment, hygiene and leaving the front door open. Mr X also complained about a visit which lasted only 2 minutes. The agency was unable to substantiate the complaints about the meals, equipment and hygiene since there was no evidence and the carers refuted the allegations. The agency’s records showed the visit lasted 26 minutes rather than 2 so the Council asked Mr X for the CCTV evidence he’d said he had. It also asked for the names of the carers involved. Meanwhile it asked the agency to increase spot checks on the carers who had attended to Mrs X and to remind all carers of the health and safety policy. Mr X did not supply the names or the CCTV evidence.

33. Mr X complained again about medication and that his mother was not supported to mobilise. He said medication was not being properly administered and he had found medication on the floor. The Council’s review of the medication sheets found that on 15 April 2013, a carer failed to record that medication had been administered. The agency was alerted and took it up with the carer concerned. The Council found that there were occasions recorded when Mrs Y refused to mobilise and explained that carers can only encourage, not force, Mrs Y to comply.
34. On 8 May 2013, Mr X met with officers from the Council to discuss options around Mrs Y employing her own carers. This was not possible because Mrs Y did not have a National Insurance number. The Council explained she has the choice to arrange her own care through a care agency of her choice.
35. On 20 May 2013, the agency stopped providing a service to Mrs Y because the weekend care assistant refused to return.
36. On 21 May 2013 Mr X complained to the Council because Mrs Y had developed a grade 4 pressure sore. Mr X said this was due to the carers not being sufficiently observant. Another safeguarding adults referral was made.
37. Mr X wrote to the Council expressing concern about care agency capacity. The Council responded explaining about the market for home care services and how it monitors capacity.
38. Over time, Mrs Y’s care package had increased in several stages from 17.5 hours per week in two calls per day to 29 hours per week over four calls per day. The Council adjusted Mrs Y’s support plan throughout to take account of her changing needs and environment.

Was there fault leading to injustice?
39. The Council assessed Mrs Y and had a suitable support plan in place. This was reviewed as required. It also had a service specification and monitoring system in place to ensure services were effective. However, it is clear that services were not always effective.
40. There is no doubt Mrs Y experienced significant levels of poor care, especially over the three month period from November 2012 to January 2013. During this period serious issues around medication were raised and substantiated. This indicates a possible breach of regulation 9. The Council is not responsible for the provider meeting the regulations, but it is responsible for the care it commissions. I find this to be fault causing injustice in unnecessarily increased risks to Mrs Y. The Council subsequently dealt with these incidents appropriately and therefore the injustice was minimised, but it did not account for the injustice caused.
41. I have not seen evidence of significant delays in the Council’s handling of Mr X’s many complaints but Mr X did not feel it was dealing with the issues. This is not entirely justified as Mr X was not aware of the efforts made by the Council with the agencies concerned. However, the Council’s comment about choosing not to feed Mrs Y was not helpful and the Council should have taken this complaint more seriously. Mr X said Mrs Y was without food and medication; this was the issue to be dealt with immediately and any discussion about who should have done what should have been dealt with once she was known to be safe. Shopping for food was one of the tasks the agency was required to provide. Mr X is quite right when he asks why this would be paid for if it wasn’t needed. I found fault in this and this led to injustice to Mr X in frustration and anxiety. The medication was not the agency’s responsibility and Mr X did not identify any injustice to Mrs Y as a result of the lack of food.
42. Mr X emailed the Council regularly copying the email to many officers. Mr X says this was because all these officers had been dealing with him. His style of complaining may have been difficult for the Council to deal with and the Council’s approach undermined any remaining trust. The Council recognised this in its offer of a fresh start and meeting with a senior officer. I cannot say this in itself was fault which led to injustice, but it contributed to an overall deterioration in the relationship.
43. Mr X made several complaints in April 2013 which were partially upheld by the Council. These were mostly about timekeeping which was no doubt inconvenient and annoying but did not necessarily increase the risks to Mrs Y. Taking into account the ongoing nature of the problems with the care provided, I find this to be fault leading to some injustice for Mr X, in terms of frustration and inconvenience. Again, the Council dealt mostly appropriately with these issues when they were raised but it did not address the injustice to Mr X and did not consider the wider issue of the ongoing problems across agencies.
44. Mr X’s complaints about carers leaving the oven and front doors open, staying only two minutes when the agency record says 26 minutes and various hygiene issues were not substantiated. Mr X did not supply the Council with the information it required to investigate. I cannot therefore find fault here.
45. Understandably, Mr X has repeatedly requested carers who speak his mother’s native language. Regulations say the care provider must have “due regard” to this and her other cultural needs. However, recruiting carers who have these specific skills is not easy. The Council has ensured clear instructions are available in English and has pursued the option of carers speaking this language; these have been supplied when available. I therefore cannot find fault in this. The Council has done its best to ensure Mrs Y’s needs are met appropriately.
46. Mrs Y lives with her family so fortunately, the risks of neglect and harm were lower than it might otherwise have been. This reduces the potential injustice but does not mitigate the fault.
47. Mr X’s standards are high although he does not agree with this, and sometimes his expectations and the volume of communication caused some difficulty with carers and agencies that operate under time-pressured conditions. This is not to say the quality of care has been acceptable but this may have limited the scope for resolution.
48. Additionally, from those examples I have seen, it was clear to see why Mr X’s comments could be taken as insulting and offensive. However, agencies should be more tolerant and widely accepting of different approaches particularly in view of the multicultural context in which they operate.

49. I have found fault in some of Mr X’s specific allegations about the quality of care and not in others. I also found some fault in the Council’s handling of some of his complaints. I have not found fault with the assessments, the change to a new agency, the capacity issue or the provision of a carer speaking Mrs Y’s native language.
Agreed action
50. I recommended that the Council:
• Reviews its quality monitoring system to ensure it feeds into an effective action plan for improvements across agencies.
• Reviews its complaints procedure to ensure complaints are responded to appropriately under all circumstances.
• Pays £250 to Mrs Y for the unnecessarily increased risk to her well being.
• Pays £350 to Mr X for his frustration, anxiety, inconvenience, and time and trouble in bringing his complaints.
51. The Council has agreed to my recommendations.
Final decision
52. I have completed my investigation and found there was fault by the Council which caused injustice to Mr X and Mrs Y. I am satisfied the action the Council will take is sufficient to remedy their injustice.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

LGO – a waste of time and money

The Ombudsman (LGO) similar to all authorities, are very good at promoting their policies on fairness and efficiency. It is easy to publicize good standards, not so good to actually sustain what they publicize.
On the LGO website about “Complaining about us”, amongst many of their obligations, they write “We are committed to responding properly to your complaint”; needless to say that they have still not acknowledged or replied (a fortnight later) to my letter of 21.01.2014.
BMG Research (0800 358 0337), only three weeks ago conducted a survey with the view to “Understanding peoples’ perceptions and experiences is very important to the Local Government Ombudsman. It will help us to develop our services for the future…” (?)
Glad that they wish to improve their services but I feel that my letter to them is self-explanatory and there is still a massive gap regarding fairness and what resembles their disposition to corruption.

Hereunder is the full letter.

 
Recorded delivery

Commission For Local Administration (Ombudsman)
2 The Oaks
Westwood Way
Westwood Business Park
COVENTRY
CV4 8JB
21st January 2014

- Case ID – 13001xxx

Dear Sirs,

Following is a series of complaints that I raised throughout the previous year to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) concerning a series of incidents of maltreatment and inappropriate care that my 92-year old mother encountered at Ealing Council Social Services. The process of the investigation of complaints by the LGO regarding the matter has been ongoing since November, 2012; and I have yet to see any constructive results. I have become increasingly frustrated by the assistance, or lack thereof, that the LGO has offered to date.

After I initially approached the LGO back in 2012, a few weeks later, after multiple discussions with your offices, I received the following email from Mr. Hobley:

• 31.Jan., 2013 – Mr Hobley wrote: “When we consider that the Council has finished its complaints process. I would be grateful if you did not keep emailing us with more information”.

Ealing Council has, to date, never addressed any of my complaints. I found the email from Mr. Hobley off-putting due to the “we will contact you, don’t contact us” tone that was taken, since the reason given was to let the pertinent council finish their own complaint process first, even though the Council has ignored deadlines without the provision of any results. I then decided to approach Dr. Martin.

• 13.Feb., 2013 – A letter and additional documentation was sent via special delivery to Dr Jane Martin, receiving of both has not yet been acknowledged.

After a few months of silence following the delivery, I received a telephone call, by the end of May 2013, from Ms. Jane Smith, an investigator from the LGO. She sounded positive, and appeared to be dedicated towards the resolution of my case. Eight months of exchange of information through emails followed since the initial phone call from Ms. Smith without progress on my case; as can be observed from the correspondence I received from her.

• 31.May, 2013 – I will be in touch as soon as I have any news. As I explained before, this will probably be in approximately 4-6 weeks.
• 12.July, 2013 – I hope to come to a provisional view on your complaint soon.
• 23.July, 2013 – I will do my best to come to a conclusion as quickly as possible. You will no doubt appreciate that there is a lot of information for me to consider.
• 02.Sept., 2013 – Thank you for keeping me up to date. I hope to be able to send you my provisional view in the next two or three weeks.
• 17.Sept., 2013 – I am unable to let you have my provisional view yet. I am now on leave for two weeks and expect to continue work on this once I return
• 05.Nov., 2013 – It is difficult to anticipate how long this will take but I hope it will be done in less than three weeks.
• 15.Jan., 2014 – I have asked for some legal advice and should be in a position to issue my provisional view. Our legal advisers have 28 days to respond.

The last email, as per the norm that I have been observing over the period of the last 2 years, arrived after reticence of nearly two months. In addition to giving yet another deadline of 28 days, the email only addresses the issue of the provision of payments, while completely ignoring the maladministration and subpar service quality that my mother had to put against at Ealing Council.

The list of failures include, that I have requested the LGO to investigate, as has been mentioned on previous occasions but to no avail, the following offences:
• Incorrect action and/or failure to take any action
• Failure to follow procedures or the law
• Failure to provide information
• Failure to investigate
• Failure to reply
• Misleading or inaccurate statements
• Inadequate liaison
• Inadequate consultation
• Unfulfilled promises

While an initial response was expected from Ms. Smith not later than mid-July 2013, eight months later we have yet another deadline of an extra 28 days.

This raises significant questions on the procedural impropriety that seems apparent on observation of the LGO’s responses over the last two years regarding the case in question.

I have been trying to resolve my mother’s care since April 2012. During this time, I have repeatedly been stonewalled over a period of 21 months. After such a long time, I am unsure of what to make of the situation and the reasons for the prolonged delay and lack of constructive response. The matter of the fact is, despite seven clear occasions on which Ms. Smith expressed her intention to consider the case and come up with a decision, we still have a general failure of the consultation.

The Ealing Council have had, undoubtedly, a lot to say about their vision of fairness and competency on the matter when contacted; but the fact remains that, despite a number of promises, they consistently failed to provide any positive outcomes from deadlines.

The point is not to blame any specific entity. I am simply seeking an efficient flow of proceedings regarding my case, since the whole case with the LGO started back in November 2012 and any action has yet to be taken. I implore you to assist me in the resolution of this matter and help put the dispute to rest; almost two years have passed since it began.

Yours Faithfully

A B M Procaccini

This Blog is NOT about me – Please read this one “with care”

A couple of Thoughts on Contained Jargon in an Uncontained World: or why you can be an arsehole too!

A friend sent me the link that I’ve pasted below. It’s a very personal and moving account of what it is like to be the parent of a child who is being ‘supported’ by UK social services. But I would extend this to anybody who has anybody they care for within the UK care sector.
I used to work in the UK care sector. I left school at 16 years of age with no qualifications. The only real option for me was to go away to sea. This was firstly in the UK merchant navy and then the UK Royal Navy. It was hard work, full of hard men and women. It was a life full of the ‘rude’ and the ‘savage’ to use Ruskin’s words. It was a wonderful world full of colour and ‘dance’. Then I left the sea and became a ‘care worker’ in the UK ‘supporting’, ‘caring for’ the up to date jargon escapes me, young people with profound learning and physical disabilities. I have seen brutality in my life. I have seen what human beings can do to one another and the care sector was a brutal and brutalising place to work.

During my time working in the care sector I saw staff physically abuse, assault, degrading behaviour, and in admittedly an extreme case I caught a member of staff attempting to set fire to a client’s testicles. Prior to joining Royal Holloway to do my PhD I began a PhD at Lancaster. I supported myself by working at a residential home for a similar ‘client’ group.
Here I found abuse on an industrial level. When I reported an incident of assault by a member of staff on a client to the manager, the member of staff was promoted. At this particular ‘care’ home I found a young woman who was ‘challenging,’ being illegally and cruelly confined in her room. This distressed her more so she began to bite chunks out of her body and tear at her orifices. Her experience is beyond words. I was faced with the ‘choice’ of staying and in effect condone the behaviour or report it and leave and as a consequence lose my support for the PhD. I had no choice.

As an aside it may be tempting to tell yourself ‘Ah, this is men.’ The problem that you have there is that I saw women abuse as well. When I reported the setting fire to the testicles incident it was women who actively attempted to cover up the incident. I was ostracised by these women because “they thought I was going to report their friend.” No one or nothing has a monopoly of moral height; in the words of that eminent philosopher, Frank Zappa, “You can be an arsehole too.” To think otherwise is to take yourself and the rest of us down an intellectual and ethical cul-de-sac.
So why is this appearing on a webpage by someone who writes and thinks about social and political thought? Precisely because I write and think about social and political thought.
After the sea a friend, Richard Shipp, the same friend that sent me the link, persuaded me that I needed to be educated (He has a lot to answer for). I enrolled on a course in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. The only regret for me was the litany of despondency that is otherwise known as the reading list. It was a world of solipsistic fantasy that in spite of itself still managed to be impoverished. I had come from a world of colour and now found myself in a world of black and white, of either/or. A world of childhood tantrums where certainty is always self-assured. It was a world in which the language used was unrecognizable to which it was applied. It was a world in which the different lights that humanity have used to stumble through the condition of being human, have suffered, to misuse that most poignant of phrases from Tagore, the silence of obscurity. It is the world of the representative agent in which the uncontainable nature of humanity is contained, controlled, and feared. It is a world in which challenges, if not in your language, or what you define as language, become threats. The truth is that he or she confronts me through despair at my proselytizing certainty. It is from this world of words that the ‘representative agent’ becomes ‘empowered’, with ‘circles of support and influence’, who ‘feed into’ ‘care plans’ that ‘promote independence’. Whilst this may be good for conferences, interviewing skills, to use as keywords or fashionable research themes the reality is that it disguises, it looks away and reassures itself, you and me, from this brutality through the use of jargon that it inherits from social and political theorists. It is like the stage setting in a theatre that sets order, the narrative but which fails to acknowledge the chaos behind the set designer’s construction.
In our world, the world of those that spend their time thinking of the social and the political, we nicely side step the ‘rude’ and the ‘savage’ when we restrict the use of the political and the social and how we can think about such terms. We restrict vision and the social possibilities of the everyday, to a brutal account of the rationality of a tradition of a word. If we do not see it, it does not need to be changed. We then gift this to the applied sciences. It is a philosophy of constipation that treats thought as a historical artefact that blinds us to the genealogy and to the political and social status that it has privileged. If the political and social theorist requires certainty may I suggest beginning with three certainties before you start transforming the world into your own image. It is the world in which the model of living, and the paucity of thought on, in the ‘Western’ democracies condemns the most disadvantaged to three certainties. They know that they will be poorly educated, they know that they will be provided with poor life opportunities and they know that they will die earlier than those with better socio-economic and political advantages. The greatest opportunity that we can offer those that we silence, and we offer it with pride, is the opportunity to kill or to be killed for us, or at least what we are told is a ‘us’. Welcome to their world and you wonder why you fear them. They experience these certainties every moment of their lives. These are lives in which Cosmopolitanization is for an Islington coffee table. This is the world that the young man in the article lives in. He and his family, because of their dependency to the law, are amongst the most vulnerable in the UK. Their world is the world of the unsaid. Rather than condemning life to the obscurity of silence, unable to ‘communicate appropriately’, the problem of social and political thought, and the tools we give to others, should be to provide a ‘space’ through which worlds reveal itself to ‘I’.
We are face to face with and also inhabit the unsaid. But by relying on a genealogy of a tradition of ‘thought’, Thought fails to acknowledge that human beings experience communication, communicating and communicate in a variety of ways beyond a precise science of language. And whilst a strain of de-colonial thought may privilege itself by distancing itself from these people and their experiences, the problems of living together will not be answered through any sort of ontological or epistemological account of moral height but in an account of humility and openness. Theory must be relevant to the features of our political and social situation. It must be realistic from the perspective of the lived experience. What it describes must be imaginable beyond ‘your’ imagination. In challenging imagination you create new possibilities. The theorist can write of abstractions, of agents, of individuals, and project his/her certainty to the outside world in order to provide someone else with a better future. But before you do this look at your own world and if your words cannot be seen behind the face of the most vulnerable and fears beyond your own, then set your pen aside.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-23423541