We were all shocked by the panorama programme last night.
Our own experience with some care homes chimes with this. We have clients, whose families have moved them out of a home because of the terrible care they received.

However there are many care homes, and care agencies who, like us, operate on a very different model.

Our objective is the happiness, as well as the safety and wellbeing, of our clients.  Safeguarding from abuse is the bare minimum you should expect from any care provider.  We promote our clients’ independence and aim for our carers to form good, long lasting and fulfilling relationships with their clients.

This is why good care agencies and care homes have a culture of actively promoting whistle blowing; why we ask our clients, carers, families to report even the faintest suspicion of something wrong; why we carry out unannounced monitoring visits; why good agencies and care homes will investigate and take action immediately any concern is raised.

The culture is reflected in recruitment of carers too. Good agencies and care homes are very fussy about the people they recruit. We, for example, only let about 3% of applicants become carers, after thorough checks and training.

So what do you do if you are worried? If you are thinking of putting a relation in a care home, contact the relatives and residents association. They have a list of questions to ask, things to look out for. Empower yourself with the knowledge of what to look for.

And if your parents don’t want, or need to go into a care home, and you are finding hourly or live-in care for them? Talk to the agency, ask them about whistle blowing and what systems they have in place to prevent abuse. Ask to see what training they give their carers. Make sure the carers have time to look after your loved one properly, that they are not rough or unfeeling just because they are in a hurry; make sure the ethos of the agency is one of making clients happy, not just providing carers to do tasks; and talk to other families. Any good agency will be happy to give you details of families who will talk to potential clients, who will tell a ‘warts and all’ picture of the service they get.