Abuse of Elderly and Vulnerable Service Users in Care Facilities

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When an elderly or vulnerable person is admitted into a care setting, such as a care home, day or residential centre, or hospital, there is a reasonable expectation that they will be treated with care, dignity and respect.

Sadly, this is not always the case, as certain news stories occasionally bring to light. And, when we here about these terrible acts, it feels particularly egregious that those people who have been trusted and paid to look after our loved ones, when they are at their most vulnerable, are the very people who abuse them. Even more shocking perhaps is the fact that the regulatory framework put in place to oversee such facilities seems unable to identify and halt the signs of abuse and unacceptable service.

If your loved one has suffered abuse or mistreatment or has experienced a lack of care when attending a care facility, Talk to Thompsons today, to see if we could help you seek the justice you deserve.

Essex mental health hospital investigation

In September and October 2020 several news reports were published regarding mental health service providers in Essex. One report focused on the mistreatment of service users in a private hospital for women, while another story told of more than 20 families who had joined together to fight for justice following the harm their relatives had suffered while using or attending Essex mental health services.

Following allegations of mistreatment at one unit, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) investigated the claims and found that staff had subjected residents to emotional and physical abuse. In late 2019, the unit had been subject to special measures put in place by the CQC after the inadequate leadership was found to have resulted in an oversight of safety and poor quality of service.

Some of the claims against the Essex facilities date back many years and this begs the question as to how and why the poor standards and breaches of regulations were allowed to prevail for so long, and whether earlier intervention on behalf of the service users could have prevented the abuse and, ultimately, the deaths of service users

Abuse claims in care settings in Scotland

In Scotland, the responsibility for ensuring that the quality of care provided in care homes, hospitals and other care settings lies with the Care Inspectorate and while we fully appreciate that hundreds of care homes and thousands of care staff work tirelessly, effectively and with the utmost care to look after vulnerable service users, there is a minority of facilities and staff who do not meet the needs of their clients and, in some cases, commit acts of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. This is morally reprehensible.

Sadly, Thompsons solicitors in Scotland are all too familiar with incidents similar to those now being exposed in Essex and we have dealt with numerous cases in which individuals have been abused and mistreated in Scotland.

In most cases of this nature, the claim will be brought against the care facility directly rather than the individual staff members who have carried out the abuse or caused injury or mental suffering. The leadership and management of a facility have a duty of care towards service users and under Scottish law they can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their staff when assault or mistreatment has been carried out by an employee during the course of their work. Similarly if staff negligence has caused injury or harm, the employer can be held responsible.

In order for the an employer to be held liable, the incident or incidents which cause harm must be "closely connected" to a staff member's employment. So, if the neglect or mistreatment occurs to the service user when they are in the care of the facility, whether in the night, during the day, on the premises or on a trip organised and supervised by care facility staff, the employer can be held responsible as the courts have established sufficient connection between the employment of staff members and the care which should be being provided.

How Thompsons can help

We believe it is our moral and ethical responsibility to help those who have been affected by care facility abuse and mistreatment. One of the ways we can do this is by keeping our fees as low as possible and we have built our reputation by working on some of the most challenging and complex cases.

We understand that it can be hard for those who have been badly let down in the past to trust other service providers who say they will help, so we are committed to listening carefully and thoroughly investigating your case in order to provide you with as much information as possible about the likely outcomes.

Please Talk to Thompsons today in complete confidence on 0800 0891 331. Our specially trained team will be able to discuss your circumstances with you and you will be under no obligation to take your claim further.

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