Frontline carers are first to be at risk of adverse criticism and damaging action. The Panorama film appears to show highly abusive deliberate ill treatment. Such behaviour by staff is to be condemned at all times but may arise for a variety of reasons, such as:
- service users may be very provocative in their challenging behaviour and that may escalate
- staff may be insufficiently skilled or trained
- staff may be overworked, exhausted or inadequately supported
- service users may simply be unsuited to a particular placement.
Staff must protect themselves and seek regular support from their managers and, most importantly, support each other.
There will be cases of deliberate and wicked abuse – some might say torture – and for those evil people the criminal courts are the appropriate remedy. However, in my experience, the vast majority of such cases arise out of pressures on frontline staff that go unrecognised and unsupported.
Care staff’s careers, reputations and positions within the community are all placed at great risk by moments of madness when decent people act out of character and ruin their lives.
What can care staff do?
Watch out for colleagues who may be under stress. Intervene to encourage and support. If you have continuing concerns, speak to your manager.
Understand and use the whistle-blowing policy. Remember that the right course is to report internally to enable your employer to address any issues.