A BBC programme has found hundreds of care homes are banning relatives who complain about the quality of care provided for their loved ones.
Paul Doolan told the Victoria Derbyshire programme that a Somerset care home banned him from visiting his father after he complained his father’s hearing aids were not working properly.
A spokeswoman for the care home told the BBC: “I can confirm that during the time in question, the home followed all regulations set by CQC [Care Quality Commission] and all guidelines set by our local authority.”
Jemma Garside, of Duncan Lewis solicitors, told the programme that she regularly saw cases similar to that of the Doolans.
In another case highlighted by the programme, Angela and Mervyn Eastman said their mother was evicted from an Essex nursing home after they complained about poor care.
The Eastmans said the care home said their mother’s needs could not be dealt with and gave her 28 days notice to leave.
A spokesman for the care home said it had a duty of care “to ensure that we are always able to meet individuals’ needs, and where we cannot, we are compelled to make unenviable and difficult decisions to ensure that the individual is supported to relocate to a service where their needs can be best met”.
CQC chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: “Care homes are people’s homes. They, their family and friends should not live in fear of being penalised for raising concerns.
“Good providers know this and we see plenty of excellent practice where managers and staff respond to complaints positively and make sure it is as easy as possible for people to visit their loved ones in a welcoming, friendly environment.
“But we know this is not always everyone’s experience, with reports of visiting restrictions and people being forced to leave against their wishes. We also know that too many people are frightened to raise concerns because they think this is going to happen.
“Later this week we will be publishing information to clarify people’s rights and our expectations of providers so that people living in care homes, their family and friends can be more confident that their concerns will be listened to and acted upon by providers responsible for delivering safe, compassionate and high quality care.
“As we improve the way we monitor and inspect care services we will explore how we can collect information to give us a greater insight into this issue which we know worries the public and can be an important indicator of a service struggling to provide good care. This will help us to focus our inspection activity and encourage improvement. We will also continue to use our enforcement powers to take action against providers where appropriate for the benefit of those using services.”
CEO of Care England Professor Martin Green said it would be “useful” if the CQC could track the instances of relatives being prevented visits following complaints and the number of residents being asked to leave.
He added: “There may be times residents’ conditions change and that nursing home isn’t the appropriate place to give that person the right care.”