By Leon A Smith
June 21, 2013
Another week, another care home shock horror expose. This week Panorama featured a care home offering sub-optimal care which was partly exposed as a result of secret filming. This depressing programme was not about physical abuse but it was care that was callous, insensitive and frankly uncaring. Earlier this week there was a small article in The Times of two carers being caught sleeping at night, who were summarily dismissed because of this and a litany of other issues. The depiction in the media of poor care is hard hitting and never ending.
It is of course the role and duty of the media to expose such problems in our society and to ensure that everything possible is being done to focus on poor standards and any form of wrong doing. An ongoing mantra of mine however has been that such media coverage needs to be balanced with recognition of the high quality and very positive work which is being done throughout the country every day by first class care home providers.
Within the Jewish community we are often quick to react if we feel that a news story or feature regarding the Middle East has been imbalanced, ie we perceive that it may have been prejudiced against Israel. The same concept must apply in the care world. Every negative horror story should be balanced by a positive inspirational story. Indeed, there are far more positive things happening in the care sector than negative but I will settle for a 50/50 balance in the media.
One of the effects of facilitating whistleblowing is to give more and more people the confidence that they can highlight poor care. This of course applies both within the National Health Service and in other areas. This in turn prompts some people to pursue the route of secret filming through hidden cameras – a la Panorama. It is an interesting debate whether this is a good or a bad thing. There can of course be arguments on either side; however for high quality homes with high quality care, the fact that staff are being effectively spied upon can be very undermining and demoralising. Notwithstanding all of the above there can be no doubt that investigative journalism and whistleblowing can ultimately and in the long run only serve to benefit patients and users of services.
On a personal note, many people have communicated with me as I have been marking my 40 years at Nightingale House (now Nightingale Hammerson). Later this year I will be moving into a different role which will be that of acting as an external ambassador for the Charity and will become increasingly involved in fundraising. I am not leaving Nightingale Hammerson and I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with this wonderful charity in this exciting new role!