After Panorama

Where does social care go now after the latest in a long line of Panorama exposes of failure?

Everyone in our sector must have viewed the Panorama programme “Elderly Care Exposed” with a sickening sense of “Oh no, not yet another scandal in social care”.  The build-up in advance of screening of the programme; the shameful scenes of deliberate abuse of older people; suspension and dismissals of junior staff, followed by grovelling public statements by the management of the care home as an exercise in damage limitation saying it’s not all bad.  Andrea Sutcliffe of CQC publicly expressing her anger over new revelations of failure of care on her watch.

We all know the script of these scandals too well by now.

The worst aspect of the whole sorry story is that it did not come to light as a result of the efforts of management of the care home or from a CQC inspection, but by external undercover reporting. Clearly the staff or relatives had concerns. They tipped off the BBC, who carefully planted their reporter – working in the guise of a junior carer at the home – to film the alleged failures and publish the truth.

This episode is a double failure in my view.  Failure of care, no question about it; but equally bad is the non-existence or failure of feedback channels that could allow staff or relatives to speak the truth to management.  It seems clear that people knew what was going on but could not speak out.  How much better if management of The Old Deanery care home were using a confidential, anonymous survey system like Care2Improve.

The truth is something we can’t tell ourselves. To get at the truth we need to listen to someone else.  Good management includes seeking out and listening to feedback.

The irony of course is that the vast bulk of all social care is the exact opposite of the shameful scenes we witnessed on Panorama.  In thousands of care settings all across the country, we know that countless big and small acts of kindness, humour and generosity take place every day. That is the reality of care that we see from doing Care2Improve surveys for care homes and dom care providers.

No, care providers are not perfect; yes, there is always room for improvement; but most care providers who we see we can confidently say are high-quality providers striving to improve.

Peter Weeks