By John Pring Disability News Service June 29th 2017
The disability charity Mencap is facing allegations that staff at one of its care homes used an offensive nickname for a disabled resident, and repeatedly reused feeding syringes that should have been thrown away after just one day.
A whistleblower, A*, has told how one resident was nicknamed “poison dwarf”, while staff refused to take another resident to watch his beloved football team – even though he had a season ticket – because of his incontinence.
She has also described how the same staff member bullied one older resident and told him she wished he would “hurry up and move out”, and shouted at him in his bedroom.
Another member of staff allegedly used offensive, threatening language to an older couple from Jehovah’s Witnesses who had been talking to one of the residents.
The whistleblower has also alleged that one woman with high support needs – who is fed through a PEG feeding tube – suffered repeated infections after staff kept reusing syringes for a whole week when they were only supposed to be used for one day before being thrown out.
Residents’ financial records were also more than three months out-of-date, the whistleblower has told the authorities.
A, who herself is disabled, had previously worked happily at another Mencap home, but almost immediately became concerned after transferring to the new home, which supports adults with learning difficulties**.
Although some of the staff were professional and caring, she said, others “were not bothered at all”, and the care overall was “atrocious, especially surrounding the peg feed”.
A passed her concerns to Mencap, and to the local council’s safeguarding team, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the local police force. She has now resigned from her job.
She said she felt unsupported by Mencap after she raised her concerns, including when she had to take time off sick due to anxiety.
She said: “I’ve closed a door on Mencap and refuse to look back on them now but know that I am not the only one to be treated this way by them and I certainly won’t be the last.”
In its last inspection, which took place in the last six months, before the whistleblower raised her concerns, CQC concluded that the care home provided a good level of service.
A spokesman for the local authority said: “We’re continuing to investigate the concerns raised and we’ll work closely with the care home and the CQC to ensure that the needs of residents are being fully met.”
A Mencap spokeswoman said: “Mencap immediately alerted safeguarding bodies to these allegations and were permitted to carry out an internal investigation.
“We can confirm that these allegations were fully investigated and no concerns were found.
“Mencap takes the welfare of the people we support very seriously and remain committed to working with external bodies to ensure we maintain the highest standards of care.”
But she said the charity was also aware of claims that A had subjected several Mencap staff to “harassment” since making her allegations, some of which has been reported to the police.
She said: “A number of Mencap staff have felt compelled to contact the police on grounds of harassment regarding the whistle-blower.
“Whilst we take all allegations seriously and always investigate, we also have to be mindful of the impact that personal harassment might have on staff and take this into account in all incidents.”
Asked about the harassment allegations, the council spokesman said: “We’re not in a position to comment on individual cases because of the sensitive information discussed, but we do support people to come forward and raise any concerns which they may have.”
A police spokeswoman said the force had examined the allegations against staff at the home but concluded that no criminal offences had taken place.
She said: “CQC and the council are investigating but there is no police investigation.”
She was unable to confirm any active investigation relating to the home, including into any harassment allegations.
A CQC spokesman said: “We have received allegations in relation to the care and treatment of people [at the home] and have referred them to the local council safeguarding team.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and consider what future actions to take, which may include carrying out a return inspection.”
*She has asked for her name not to be published
**For legal reasons, DNS is not naming the home or its location