Worried about the quality of nursing care? What to do if a loved one isn’t getting the care they need

If you are concerned about the standard of care a relative or loved one is receiving, there are steps you can take to help improve their situation.

Recent reports in the press and by the BBC point to a ‘care crisis’ in the UK, and ongoing issues with the UK’s care system.  A recent report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has highlighted the sub-standard levels of care sometimes provided to patients across the UK. They report that many services are underfunded and overstretched, with staff shortages being a major area of concern. 

If you have a loved one receiving care, or moving into a care home, they have the right to be treated properly. They might choose to receive domiciliary care at their own home, or through a residential or care home. Sadly, as documented by the press and the BBC, some carers and homes can sometimes fall short in the care they provide to patients.

There is no clear definition of poor care, and there can sometimes be a thin line between poor care, and abuse and neglect. The bottom line is this: is the person getting the support and help they need as identified in their care plan?

Common problems with care and care homes

When problems occur, it’s often due to a neglect of basic care needs, toileting, poor staff behaviour and the general happiness and wellbeing of the patient. Common issues include:

  • Injuries caused by falls, slips or poor handling by staff
  • Pressure sores
  • Errors in medication
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Late referrals for treatment

Seeing someone suffer because of poor care is emotionally very difficult. You might be worried for their safety, or unsure if you should speak up. However, there are steps you can take to help.

What to do if you have concerns about the quality of care

If you have concerns about the care a friend or relative is receiving, then there are several practical steps you should take. Don’t be afraid to raise a complaint. Although it can be a difficult task to discuss concerns relating to someone’s care, it’s important to remember that they have a right to be treated properly. Care homes and home-care agencies must be registered with the CQC and meet the minimum standards set. By law, all health and social care services must have a procedure in place for dealing with complaints.

As a first step, you should discuss your concerns with the patient. Make your own observations, or if you can’t be there, ask someone else to be present when the carer comes, or in the case of residential or nursing homes, visit the patient so that you can form a first-hand view of the level of care being provided. 

Dealing with abuse by carers and care homes

If you suspect that your relative or loved one is receiving poor care or being abused in any way, ask them about it in private. Try to get as much detail as possible. Then, report the matter to the manager responsible for the patient’s care. Ask them for an explanation and an investigation. Follow up your verbal complaint in writing. 

If you witness abuse, or have evidence that suggests basic standards aren’t being met, intervene as soon as you can to stop it. Write down what happened, and follow it up with the care manager. Keep copies of all documents relating to your complaint, recording important details like date, time, place and the names of staff involved.

You can also contact your local authority to report a problem - even if they don’t fund the patient’s care. All councils have procedures in place to deal with the care and protection of vulnerable adults. You should also inform the CQC, as they have legal powers to intervene and make care providers improve their service.

How we can help

If you are concerned about the care a loved one is receiving, then do get in touch. Our specialist Medical Negligence team offer valuable help and guidance. You can call our Medical Negligence experts on 0800 013 1165 for a free, confidential, no obligation chat.

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