Sadly, whilst we should be shocked, angered, bewildered and puzzled we should not be surprised.
We are working in a ‘perfect storm’ within health and social care. Deregulation, austerity, a recruitment and retention nightmare, poor leadership and management, discrimination and a whole host of other issues.
I work within the health and social care sector and have done for many years, I have observed the consistent grinding down of services, morale and support which has left many organisations vulnerable to abusive working practices. This is not to blame organisations or say that they are themselves are abusive. I am saying that the present climate has laid the foundations for abusive practice to grow.
Stretched services covering a higher workload, with fewer resources and often inexperienced staff ‘at the coal face’. The potential for something to go wrong higher and the chances that it will be missed higher too.
Recruitment is getting harder, so the chances of recruiting a ‘bad egg’ is higher. Recruitment takes time and money, as does the training and support that goes with it. Managing any business that delivers care needs bodies to be on the shop floor or out in the community, the priority will always be delivering the service. Training and support secondary, staff burn out leave and you cycle the problem.
It takes a sensible organisation to refocus on the priority, which is delivering safe and supportive care. Recognising that person-centredness includes both staff and clients. There are some wonderfully caring staff out there who go more than the extra mile for their clients and deserve organisations that go the extra mile for them.
Where you have a more supported and competent staff the chance of abuse decreases.
So what are our priorities?