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Week in Week Out: 1st Grade Care accused of ordering a client to be abandoned

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Marie Perry - George's wife

Marie Perry – George’s wife

A Welsh council is investigating a case made in a Week in Week Out programme where a care worker was ordered to leave a distressed 92-year-old woman alone on the floor of her home, following a fall.

That careworker is employed by a firm which tenders for work in Pembrokeshire and Cardiff.

Vale of Glamorgan Council-contracted 1st Grade Care  is accused of ordering the care worker to abandon Doris Jones from Barry, and attend their next call before an ambulance or relative arrived.

The care worker told Week in Week Out: “I rang the paramedics straight away and all the time she’s on the floor. I then rang the office to say my lady is on the floor and was told to leave the call within the time I was allocated and go to my next call.  I asked if somebody could do my next call for me because I didn’t feel happy leaving her, and I was told no. I had to leave her and to leave the door open for the paramedics.”

The care worker says she felt so awful about what she was asked to she do she challenged the order: “I asked if they would be happy if it was their mother lying on the floor and somebody left. I was told it was just the job.”

It’s a shocking accusation. We spoke to the son of 92-year-old Doris Jones who took the call. He told us there had been many concerns with 1st Grade Care including missed and shortened calls. When his mother came out of hospital she was placed with another care company at the family’s request. Doris Jones passed away last year.

1st Grade Care  has been in operation since 2011 and was set up by former property developer Michael Poole.

log-final-2015-300x119The allegation levelled against the company is just one of a series made on Week In Week Out by families unhappy at the level of care provided as well as care workers who say the company failed to train them and they found it impossible to meet the demands of their everyday rotas.

In a damning report by the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) published in January this year, 1st Grade Care was said to be putting service users in “unnecessary and significant risk to their health, safety and well-being due to a lack of sufficient training for a high percentage of staff.”  Issues surrounding rotas were also found. The company was served with a non-compliance notice and the CSSIW have been back to re-inspect. They say they expect to publish a new report by the end of the month.

Jackie Toom worked for the company in Pembrokeshire as a care worker and admits to being regularly late to assist clients as she struggled to follow a rota that only gave 15 minutes to travel from St David’s to Newport, or ended one call in Milford Haven and started the next at a location north of Haverfordwest, at the same time.

“You can’t be in two places at the same time. To get from A to B in zero minutes. We are not given any travel time so we could get more working hours – more calls.”

Marie Perry from Pembroke has Parkinson’s Disease and needed a care package to help her get to the bathroom four times a day but her husband George tells the programme visits were regularly late or even missed.

Mr Perry, who has had major heart surgery and whose condition is deteriorating, was left to lift his wife when care workers were late or didn’t turn up. He says he is angry over the experience and doesn’t understand why the authorities haven’t investigated the company earlier. Mr Perry told The Herald: “I don’t know how much control the local authority has over them. It’s not being properly policed otherwise they would have lost their contract some time ago”.

Week in Week Out has discovered that 1st Grade Care has come under scrutiny by both Pembrokeshire and Vale of Glamorgan but neither council has thought it appropriate to cancel the company’s contract.

In a statement 1st Grade Care, said that the company admits they have been failings managing care workers appointments but they now have a new monitoring system in the Vale of Glamorgan. But they had no comment about why problems with rotas and training had continued in Pembrokeshire despite a damning inspection in the Vale, and targets set by both councils.

Welsh councils have been under pressure to save money and drive down costs with Welsh Local Government Association figures showing £55 million shortfall in adult services over the past financial year.

There are over 400 registered care companies in Wales. The industry argues that for them to operate effectively a minimum payment of £15.74 per hour is needed, with even more in rural areas. But Week In Week Out has discovered that only three councils in Wales are paying this basic rate.

Industry insiders say the hourly rate councils are prepared to pay means they are increasingly unable to deliver services to home users effectively as they drive down their own costs to survive.

In Cardiff a new tendering system has been introduced that sees care companies bid against each other in a live auction for care packages. Professor Luke Clement from Cardiff University and an expert in social care law says he is worried by a system he believes lacks humanity and dignity.

Cardiff Council has defended the system saying it is offering value for money, improving quality as well as attracting new companies. But Week In Week Out has learned that the UK’s largest care company Allied Healthcare has pulled out of Cardiff, saying their decision was due in part to the new auction system.

Professor Clement is also critical of the inspectorate CSSIW. He told the programme: “If it is their job to make sure the sort of abuses and failures we are discussing don’t happen then clearly it’s not doing its job properly. If things go wrong there may be a letter or a slap on the wrist but companies are not being closed down”.

The Inspectorate has the power to shut down care companies that aren’t complying with regulatory standards. In the programme the CSSIW said the last year they had shut down five following inspections and 14 companies had been given strict conditions to conform to. David Francis, Assistant Chief Inspector of CSSIW said more people were coming forward with complaints tripling over the last four years, but they wanted to hear from more. He said: “If there are people out there who wish to make contact with us we welcome that. We would welcome them raising their concerns with us.”

Last year plans by Powys to reorganise home care fell into chaos and hit the headlines after companies failed to deliver and were shut down. Assembly Member Kirsty Williams says there were a number of issues that caused the new system to collapse. She wants councils to respond quicker when things go wrong. She said: “They simply do not know what is happening on the ground and then that makes the system really vulnerable. It relies on individuals making complaints and what we know about people in receipt of domiciliary care is often they are really frightened to speak out because they are worried that their carers are going to be taken away from them, they are worried that they will get people into trouble and often people are so grateful have any kind of support they are very reluctant to speak out if things are going wrong.”

The Welsh Government is working on a new law to strengthen the inspection of Domiciliary Care companies. Health Minister Mark Drakeford told the programme: “Our bill allows us to be helpful to those companies when we can help them to improve. But where there are companies who provide services of the sort that would not be acceptable to you or me or the people watching this programme. We want the law to be quicker, more effective and to make sure these companies are no longer part of our landscape”

  •  Please watch BBC Week in Week Out, Tuesday, June 9, BBC One Wales, 10.35pm
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Inquest opened into tragic death of Ianto Jenkins, 3, at family’s farm

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THE CORONER has opened and adjourned the inquest into the tragic death of a three-year-old boy who died after being hit a vehicle at the family farm.

The inquest, in Llanelli, was adjourned with a date to be fixed in four months.

Ianto Cerwyn Sior Jenkins was sadly pronounced dead at Rhosfach Farm near Efailwen, which is north of Clunderwen, at about 19:40 HRS on August 3.

He had been playing with his sister and cousin at the time.

It was explained Ianto was struck by a pick-up truck and trailer while playing on his bicycle.

Coroner’s officer Hayley Rogers said the emergency services were called to the farm at 19:00, after reports that a child had been in a crash with a piece of farm machinery but he died at the scene.

Coroner Paul Bennett extended his “belated personal condolences” to the family and told them the coroner’s service would conduct its enquiries with the “appropriate diligence and propriety”.

Ianto’s mother, Chloe Picton, previously paid tribute to her “blue-eyed boy… who was always smiling and laughing. He loved being out on the farm and going on the tractor with his daddy. Ianto and I had a very strong bond, he was ‘mummy’s little boy’ and was always by my side everywhere we went, now that’s been taken from me.”

Inquiries by the Health and Safety Executive and police are still ongoing.

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A40 accident leads to three people being airlifted to hospital

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POLICE are appealing for witnesses following a serious accident on the A40 on Friday (Sept 25) near the turning for Trecwn. The accident happened just before midnight .

Three people were airlifted to hospital with suspected life-threatening injuries, and a further four people were injured.

Dyfed-Powys police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We are appealing for witnesses following a serious collision on the A40.

“Three people were airlifted to hospital with suspected life-threatening injuries, and a further four people were injured.

“Ambulance and fire service also attended, with Coastguard helicopter assisting.

“The road was closed overnight as investigations took place.

“If you saw what happened, or noticed a white Skoda or red Chrysler travelling along that stretch of road in the time before the collision, please contact police by calling 101, or share what you know anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A spokesperson for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue told The Herald: “We can confirm that two fire engines were on the scene with the first call received at 11:55pm.

“We had two engines there with crews from Fishguard and Haverfordwest at the scene. There were numerous casualties with two vehicles involved. Casualties with numerous injuries were transported to hospital by ambulance crews on the scene.

“One person was trapped and there were two walking wounded.”

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Pembrokeshire pensioners set to be hit by removal of triple lock pension

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THE WELSH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have published figures showing that Pembrokeshire is set to be hit hard by the Government’s decision to break its manifesto promise and suspend the triple lock on pensions after Conservative MPs voted to approve the change.

Figures released by the Party show Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire is set to be the 9th hardest-hit area in Wales with 18,753 people or 23.9 percent of the constituency consisting of state pensioners. 

Meanwhile Preseli Pembrokeshire will see 18,244 people or 22.9 percent of the constituency hit, ranking 12th hardest hit in Wales. Both of Pembrokeshire’s Conservative MPs, Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb voted in favour of ending the triple lock.

The figures are based on analysis by the House of Commons Library commissioned by the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats had tabled an amendment to the Social Security Bill that called for additional support to address the impact of the pandemic on the two million pensioners currently living in poverty and making the uplift to Universal Credit permanent. However, the Conservatives, including Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb, voted against the amendment.

Commenting, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Mid & West Wales MS, Jane Dodds stated: “The Conservatives have broken yet another manifesto promise that will hit people in the pocket.

“With so many pensioners living in poverty, the triple lock was a guarantee that vulnerable elderly people were relying on. Yet this winter the Government will instead turn its back on the poorest pensioners, some of whom risk no longer being able to heat their homes as energy costs spiral.

“The Conservatives claim that suspending the triple lock is just a temporary move, but how can pensioners have any faith that this is the one promise ministers will keep?

“I and the Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to demand that the Government doesn’t leave pensioners living in poverty high and dry and that we don’t return to the days of the derisory 75p rise to the state pension.”

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