Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Scum of the earth

No, for once I am not talking about politicians: today it is nursing home staff. As some of you may recall, your humble Devil used to work as an auxiliary in a nursing home cum medical centre and did his job well and conscientiously, being commended on several occasions—by senior staff, patients and relatives alike—and so you might consider his flaming fury when he read about this (I'll quote at length since, like Cinderella, it will probably disappear at midnight).
A FRAIL pensioner, so emaciated that he looked like a "skeleton", died after a series of failures at an under-staffed nursing home, a sheriff ruled yesterday.

George Fairlie, 74, was admitted to hospital suffering from terrible injuries and clinging to life only after shocked members of his family who had arrived to take him out to lunch found him in poor health and raised the alarm. Medical staff were unable to save him and he died a month later.

[The Sheriff] said that Mr Fairlie's death in 2002 was due to staff shortages and appalling standards at the £400-a-week home. He had been left severely dehydrated and malnourished by staff.

Mr Fairlie, a diabetic who had also suffered a stroke, was covered in bed sores when he arrived in hospital.

His daughter-in-law Jan Bruce, a nurse, said: "He looked as if he had just come out of a concentration camp."

His family members said they had complained several times to senior staff at the home about their father's deteriorating condition but nothing was done.

Mr Fairlie's daughter Ann Cook earlier told the inquiry: "He was unrecognisable as my father. He was a skeleton. You could see the bones in his skull.

"His legs were skinny and he had a gangrenous foot. He was in obvious pain. He was always in a wet pad. His face was covered in food, he wasn't shaved, his hair wasn't combed."

Firstly, this makes me incredibly fucking angry. This is simply un-fucking-acceptable anywhere, let alone in what we are pleased to call a civilised country.
He said: "The responsibility for the deficiencies of the home must rest with the manager Mrs Grogan [The home's manager—DK]. There was no evidence that she had a 'hands on' approach. There was no evidence that she was proactive in trying to get to grips with the difficulties."

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper; yes, she certainly bears a responsibility.

But the people that I really want to beat the living fucking shit out of are the nurses and auxiliaries who were supposed to be looking after him. They had a duty of care and they failed: they were set a test of humanity and they failed so fucking badly that everyone of them should be fucking sterilised, publically flogged and then thrown into the fucking sea.

My contempt for these scum who could not be arsed to ensure that an old man was decently attired, fed and not rotting away knows no bounds; all that I can really wish on them is that they die—hopeless and alone—and in excrutiating agony.

Damn it, the manager of our nursing home wasn't "hands on"; he was out trying to drum up business. But we—and by "we" I mean the auxiliaries, as the registered nursing were at best lazy and, at worst, incompetent—ensured that our patients were cared for; we stayed late, we brought them presents from our own money, we talked to them, we cared for them.

Yes, Mr Fairlie's home may have been short of staff; so were we. And there may well have been "appalling standards", but who has to maintain the standards? Box-ticking managers? No.

The staff must take the full force of the blame; I hope that they feel the guilt of what they put this man through until they die. I also hope that none of them are ever allowed to work in care again; they should all be fined, and the registered nurses should be stripped of all qualifications. And then the entire lot should be prosecuted for manslaughter and then flogged and killed.

You can argue that we shouldn't allow the state to kill people but, as I said before, the staff failed the test of humanity. They are no better than animals and thus killing them entirely justified.

I am fucking raging, so I am going to go to the pub to calm myself...


Anonymous said...

'His family complained several times...' Arseholes. They should have removed him after the first complaint was not addressed. That said the staff should be tried for manslaughter. This malpractice is common. The last line of defence is family or friends who must have the gumption to hijack the patient and/or stop payment.

Katy Newton said...

I thought the same as prawn crackers there, but then I suppose I don't know what the family's situation was. Some people literally don't have enough room for elderly relatives and children, which is why these homes exist.

Devil's Kitchen said...


I have no problems with homes (the idea of caring for elderly parents for 20 years fills me with dread) and, thanks to the fact that elderly care is privatised, there is a choice. Prawn is right; they could have moved him, but there are other considerations; had he friends? Had it been better?

The staff are entirely to blame. I have worked in one of these places for a year; this is not a job from which you can go home and ignore everything. If you can, you are in the wrong profession. Ach, I've said it all above...


Anonymous said...

If you have a team of people doing something about which they don't particularly give a shit, there's always a standard "it's someone else's problem" response that means that people who are only averagely (ie very, but not murderously) morally bad can allow terrible things to happen over time.

This is precisely why it's the manager's fault, and why she's the one who thoroughly ought to be on trial for manslaughter, and why your anger is misplaced. The reason she gets more than a fiver an hour is precisely *for* the responsibility of nothing that occurs on her turf being Someone Else's Problem.


The 'Twenty-Something' said...

I agree with PDF. The manager is there to uphold 'standards of care' and ensure the nurses are efficient and capable of their workloads. However, I don't agree that 'DK's' anger is 'entirely' misplaced. Yes, the manager will be tried for her criminal culpability, but there is evidence enough to give the nurses a 'flogging' too - medical negligence not my forte; but surely the 'primary administers' of care should be dealt with for gross due care & attention if not manslaughter. Bloody nurses.

*A Very British Dude gave me the link - 'great blog' as a testimonial doesn't quite say enough! Keep up the ranting...

Miss H

Devil's Kitchen said...

PDF, what happened to "personal responsibility"? Nursing is not, I am afraid, a job in which you can just clock-in and clock-out; you are responsible for the care of people.

Who is responsible for feeding the man? The nurses/auxes. Who is responsible for shaving him? The nurses/auxes. Who is responsible for not turning him, for him having a gangrenous foot? The nurses/auxes. And, ultimately, who is responsible for not reporting his appalling condition to the manager (who will, I guarantee) have a fuck load of paperwork on her plate? The nurses/auxes.

As I said, you may think that because the manageress is paid more, she should take the rap; fair enough. What I said was that the nurses/auxes who worked with the man every, single day (and this had obviously been going on for weeks, if not months) had failed the test of humanity, of common decency. As someone who has done the job, I feel that I am in a position to pronounce on this.

Miss H, cheers for the compliment. I have looked at yours a couple of times, via The Dude, and enjoyed what I've seen...


Pogo said...

"And, ultimately, who is responsible for not reporting his appalling condition to the manager (who will, I guarantee) have a fuck load of paperwork on her plate?"

Undoubtedly... But in the name of Dog, wasn't she capable of taking a walk round the place occasionally?? Noticing a man in such a terrible state wouldn't have needed the observational qualities of a hawk!

Devil's Kitchen said...

I think that you misunderstand what a nursing home manager does. You are partially right, yes, she may well have done rounds; our manager used to do a complete round (rather than just to the most favoured, i.e. highest paying) every couple of months.

This is why you have registered nurses in charge of sections. This is why, in good homes, every patient is assigned a named nurse and two named auxiliaries who are in charge of that patient's welfare. But this is all irrelevent: I don't care whether she was a good manager, I don't care what kind of power-politics was being played out, I don't care how under-staffed they were: you do not let a human being under your care get into that kind of condition.

You do not fuck about with someone's life day after day after day. OK? 'Kay? If someone is very ill, or maltreated then you take the initiative and do something about it yourself, not just fuck off at the end of your shift to go drinking with your mates. OK? There is absolutely no, no, excuse for what happened to this man.

Now, you can try to justify it anyway you like, but there simply isn't any justification: the people who had daily contact with Mr Fairlie are just as guilty -- if not more (and I would say "more") -- as the care home manager.


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