Television review: Panorama: Please Look After Mum

Panorama: Please Look After Mum
12 February, 8.30pm


Available to view

Panorama’s “Please look after mum” had been heavily trailed on television, radio and e-mail, writes Les Bright.

But none of this prepares the viewer for the shocking accounts of abuse experienced by residents of two homes in Halifax, the Laurel Bank and the Haven.

The programme highlighted the behaviour of the local council, Calderdale, which had stopped referring new residents while apparently not informing residents or relatives of those placed in the past.

It may be that officials judged it was better to try to sort things out without causing undue alarm. But this seemed a flawed decision as the presenter twice reminded viewers that councillors had adopted a policy aimed at making Calderdale the safest place in the UK for older people in care homes.

Vivian White probed, and a senior Commission for Social Care Inspection official conceded that there are gaps in the legislation. However, he remained optimistic as he suggested: “If you bring issues to the attention of the provider they’ll take action.” I suppose this is consistent with the idea of self-assessment.

His view contrasted with that of Sarah Barrett, a former carer at The Haven, which was visited many times by inspectors during 2005-6 and is now appealing against cancellation of its registration. She tired of waiting for change so left her job and blew the whistle.

Given the current government-led Dignity in Care campaign, the absence of the care services minister was as worrying as local authority inertia, and the regulator’s optimism.

Les Bright is an independent consultant and professional adviser to the Relatives and Residents Association



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