08:08 Friday 13th July 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: One story has dominated the Peterborough Breakfast Show this week, and the news agenda right across the city. And the team here behind the Show have really brought this to the fore this week. It’s the decision by the Council to consult on whether to close two of its care homes, which has caused a massive reaction from you, from staff, from residents, and everybody involved really. Even the Cabinet member on Peterborough City Council had his say on the Show. The City Council says Welland and Greenwood House are not fit for purpose so should be closed. But the families of the residents and their carers are worried about the impact of moving elderly people, who could be deteriorating later in life. Yesterday, Terry Rich, the Director of Adult Social Care at the Council, the man who came up with the report, the man behind the proposals, says elderly people are not in danger. (TAPE)
TERRY RICH: many years ago there were stories of poorly managed closures, where there was evidence that that was the case. There has been a huge amount of work around how is the best way to manage these very sensitive change processes. And I’ve known of many instances where people have thrived when they’ve moved on. .. People suffering from dementia often need good quality environment. They need space where they can wander freely in safety. They need a design of buildings which minimises the anxiety. Now staff in our homes are doing the very best that they can in the circumstances. But in my professional view, there is a much better environment that could be provided for people with dementia. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well just over an hour ago, we heard from Yvonne Hossack, who’s a solicitor who’s represented vulnerable people and elderly people for the last fifteen years. She researched the effects of moving patients from care homes, and started by telling us what she discovered and experienced first hand. (TAPE)
YVONNE HOSSACK: In the first care home closure case I did, which was in 1997, people were a lot less frail than they are nowadays. 37% of them died in the year following the closure. That’s 15 out of 41. And I compared that to the usual death rate in homes in Northamponshire over a four year period, which was just over 18%. So twice as many died. .. More recently in 2009 and 2010, I did outcome mortality data from three care home closures, Wolverhampton, Hull and Southampton, and 26 out of 54 of the residents died within months of hearing bad news or months of moving. So your Director is either breathtakingly ignorant or dangerously ignorant of the facts. And I hope it’s only that. Because there is no data that tells you that you can make moves without risk for elderly people. In all these three cases, we took them to court. And equally, Directors of Social Care in the health said there that they would move them with the best possible method. And the best possible method has killed nearly half of them within months. And your man must be clear, whatever words he reads, I can show him the graves of these people who have died after hearing such comfortable words as these. You cannot prepare a person who is very demented for a move, because they are unable to retain and work on the fact that the home’s going to close. So every time you tell them the home’s going to close, it’s news to them. For people with cerebro-vascular or cardio-vascular events, heart attacks or strokes, they are much much more likely to get another one with bad news, or with the move itself. We had a chap in Southampton who was blind. He wasn’t demented, and could easily talk to people. But he easily talked of what his fear was, of going to a new home, and not being able to find his way round the corridors and back into his room, and where everything would be. And he died before he even moved. It is the most terrible thing to do to another vulnerable sick helpless human being, who is depending on people just like your Director to help them.
PAUL STAINTON: It depends though on the individual, doesn’t it, and the way it’s done, surely?
YVONNE HOSSACK: It does depend on the individual, and not everyone is resiliant. Years ago, fifteen years ago, of every ten people that were moved, as a rule of thumb, three would die, three would be absolutely fine, and the four in the middle would have varying degrees of physical and mental ill health for varying lengths of time, before they recovered.
PAUL STAINTON: How can we save money, and look after our elderly people in these homes?
YVONNE HOSSACK: First of all we have to work out as a society .. I never hear anyone saying we must execute prisoners, because it costs so much money to keep them in prison. And yet effectively this is an execution. Because we know it will bring about multiple deaths, and we’re still doing it for money. How can we square that circle, and say that’s Ok? Now the way to move people safely, and there is a way to move them safely, is if you have a new build care home, and you move all of the residents and all of the staff together.
PAUL STAINTON: Well we were supposed to be doing that, but we didn’t. We haven’t yet. It might happen.
YVONNE HOSSACK: They need to go back to it, because it’s the only safe way. And I’ve heard Directors say we’re doing it sort of like that method, we’re moving people in friendship groups. And I can tell you now, that will not make any difference at all. You will still have multiple deaths. You must move them all together, and with the same care staff. And don’t move them till you’ve built it, or you’ll kill them. It’s really that simple. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: The only way to move those patients without killing them is to build a brand new care home, and to move the staff and the patients together. That’s the only way you can limit the damage. Otherwise .. it’s like legalised execution. Those are the words of Yvonne this morning.