A Dundee man’s website about his mum’s ‘damaging’ care journey is prompting families, carers and even care workers to share their experiences.
Nicholas Garty, 58, was a teacher before giving up his job to care for his mum Kathleen, who passed away earlier this year.
After launching Fix Dundee Health & Social Care last month, dozens of people contacted him alleging sub-standard care of loved ones. While others talk of difficult working conditions in the health and social care system.
“People are reading it and have grievances too,” says Nicholas. “Many agree it’s a good way of shining a light on an important subject. But it isn’t just a local problem, its nationwide.
“Given the extent of what my mum suffered over an extended duration, that level of neglect can’t be an isolated case. I know it isn’t.”
Families struggling to be heard is one of the common themes Nicholas hears.
‘He’s always rushed, never washed properly’
Irene, whose father has care at home in Dundee says: “It’s never the same carers that show up so they don’t know him and never know what to do…the carers cram because they’ve not enough travel time.
“We tried complaining but we’re wasting our breath. He’s always rushed and never gets washed properly. If a person is supposed to get 30 minutes care and is only getting 15, it is wrong.”
Another local spoke out about their daughter, who is a care worker.
‘I’m glad someone is attempting to make sure the shortcomings are getting noticed.
‘Care workers and patients being let down’
“My daughter is a carer, there’s a lack of time, low rates of pay, and yes I agree, very poor training standards.
“Our social care system is desperately underfunded. But both care workers and care users are routinely let down.”
‘They should bring back matrons’
Another says a recent hip operation in hospital made them think of how to tackle the issue: “They should bring back the matrons. They made sure hospitals run like hospitals.”
While an NHS worker told Nicholas: “I read your story in the Tele. I understand what you’re saying. I worked as a hospital auxiliary for a long time. Over the years I’ve seen standards of care really fall.
“It started making me unhappy being there…even though I didn’t have another job to go to I left.”
‘Bring everyone on board’
Nicholas says, “Sadly, many people feel powerless. I’ve suggested they should share what they shared with me, with their MPs.
“This is an example of how people are talking but they’re not talking to the people and the services with influence.
“The motivation behind the site isn’t to expose and denigrate HSC services but to bring everyone on board.
“Many recognise these problems are happening all over the country. Locally, we hope to encourage these services to take a good hard look at themselves.
‘Silence doesn’t mean no problem’
“If each and every stay in hospital or care home or during home care provision was audited that might be a start.
“How can our leaders know if there is a systematic problem unless services are independently audited? Just because the majority of our elderly don’t have advocates, their silence doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.
“We need to allow the investigation process to take its course before considering next steps, because that will set the direction. We can only hope for a constructive outcome and progress.”
A Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership Spokesperson says: “Anyone with concerns should contact the partnership directly.”
NHS Tayside’s spokesperson says: “The complaints and feedback team is in direct contact with Mr Garty and is investigating the concerns raised. The findings will be shared with the family.”