Bedsores the Main Factor in ONS Survey of Unnecessary Care Home Deaths
- Posted by: curtislegalwp
- Category: News
According to data obtained from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), deaths from bedsore related health problems outnumber any other cause of death amongst care home residents over the last few years. The figures were released from ONS data on request from the Guardian newspaper* as part of an investigation into the state of care home management at the end of last year.
The data showed that bedsores, malnutrition and dehydration were the leading causes of preventable death amongst 1,463 elderly residents in privately run and NHS care homes in a five year period. Of that number, bedsores or pressure sores as they are also known as, accounted for 839 deaths, malnutrition 398 deaths and malnutrition 226 deaths. All these figures were derived from an analysis of death certificates.
The ONS figures also showed that women outnumbered men significantly when it came to unnecessary deaths in care homes. Of the 1,463 people in the survey, 1,005 were women and 458 were men.
A spokesperson from the ONS has said that the data should not be used directly to state that all these people died from a lack of care, as the figures are purely statistical. However, the founder of Compassion in Care, Eileen Chubb, whose organisation has led a campaign to highlight problem care homes, says that the figures are “probably the tip of the iceberg.” She says that she receives calls from worried family members of care home residents all the time and believes that the deaths of such residents are not being properly investigated.
Many care home residents are in advanced stages of dementia and are incapable of communicating levels of distress they are experiencing from developing pressure sores. Eileen Chubb says that there is often not enough staff and insufficient training in many care homes to adequately care for such residents. She gives the example of food being placed in front of elderly residents but not enough staff available to ensure that the food is actually being eaten.
The insufficient staff and training message is echoed by Caroline Abrahams, who is the Age UK charity director. She says that things like pressure sores are to be expected in residents who cannot move themselves easily but the problem could be solved if there were enough trained staff to deal with it.
Not all care homes fail to look after their residents adequately. The industry’s own watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, reported last year that of all care homes, 1% was recorded as “inadequate,” while a further 17% “needed improvement.” 82% were either regarded as “good” or “outstanding.”
The ONS data request by the Guardian followed an earlier investigation by the British newspaper which revealed that companies that owned and operated the “inadequate” facilities earned £113 million in the year of the investigation. It beggars belief that these companies are so cash strapped that they are incapable of employing enough staff and training them well enough to prevent elderly residents from dying horrible deaths from bedsores and starvation.
If you have an elderly resident in a care home and are concerned about his or her care and have had no luck communicating your concerns with the care home management, you should contact a solicitor to discuss your legal options.