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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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Carbon capture option Pembroke Power Station

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RWE, who operates Pembroke Power Station, has signed a contract with Fluor – a global  engineering and construction firm that specialises in carbon capture projects.  The project will investigate the feasibility of retrofitting post-combustion capture of carbon at Pembroke Power Station. The study is expected to take six months, completing in early 2023.

This feasibility study is part of RWE’s ambitious decarbonisation plans centred around the Pembroke Net Zero Centre, which brings together knowledge and expertise from across RWE’s offshore wind, gas-fired generation and hydrogen businesses to develop green energy solutions for both Pembrokeshire and the South Wales region. This is the second project to come out of RWE’s Pembroke NetZero Centre (PNZC), which launched earlier this year.

This report will form part of the analysis required for RWE to participate in the UK Government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) cluster sequencing process. This was a commitment to deploy CCUS in a minimum of two industrial clusters by the mid-2020s, and four by 2030 at the latest in support of the UK’s transition to net zero.

RWE is developing options for the decarbonisation of its 2.2 gigawatt gas-fired Power Station in Pembroke, among them post-combustion carbon capture and the introduction of hydrogen as a clean fuel. Pembroke’s South Wales location provides it with the unique advantages of being within an industrial hub and creating collaboration opportunities with partners from within the South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) who together cover the full low carbon value chain, including – from the necessary ship transport and storage of CO2 to the supply of clean hydrogen.

Richard Little, Director of the Pembroke Net Zero Centre , said: “RWE is committed to decarbonising its business by 2040, a date that in the UK fits nicely alongside the Government’s ambition for a net zero power sector by 2035. Through our PNZC we will create a hub for our green energy projects, including the development of floating wind in the Celtic Sea, the development of a hydrogen electrolyser and decarbonisation of Pembroke Power station through a mixture of carbon capture and hydrogen fuel. We are already working with South Wales businesses to help them meet their decarbonisation targets, while supporting the Welsh Government to achieve its ambitions for Net Zero.”

Julian Marschewski from RWE Generation’s Strategic Development department , said: “Kicking off this technical feasibility study with Fluor is an important step towards creating tangible options for our lighthouse decarbonisation project at Pembroke. The experience gained will also give us a better understanding on how to decarbonise RWE’s wider fleet of gas-fired assets.”

RWE is at the forefront of green innovation and is aiming to invest £15 billion in the UK in green energy projects by 2030. The company has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the development of hydrogen projects across Europe, and at the same time creating skilled green jobs.

The feasibility study has been partly funded by South Wales Industrial Cluster; a consortium of Wales’s major industry, energy, infrastructure, law, academic and engineering organisations of which RWE is a key member. The cluster was successful in securing support from the public and private sector to develop a range of partner decarbonisation deployment projects for the region.

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Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre welcomes manager of Lucasfilm

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THE NEW Millennium Falcon exhibition at Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre welcomed a very special visitor recently, one whose major support and contributions made the unique project possible.

Lynwen Brennan, Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Lucasfilm Ltd – who was brought up in Pembrokeshire – had a first hand insight into the Pembroke Dock Falcon exhibition, which opened earlier this year.

Detailing the construction of the first complete version of the iconic Millennium Falcon for use in the Oscar winning ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, the exhibition has been an amazing success over the summer, attracting thousands of Star Wars fans to West Wales.

The spaceship was constructed in a Pembroke Dock aircraft hangar over 40 years ago.

Brennan was welcomed by Trust Chairman Graham Clarkson and Exhibition Project Manager Mark Williams along with Trustees Rik Saldanha, Gareth Mills and Martin Cavaney.

When viewing the many images on display, most of which had been kindly supplied by the Lucasfilm Archives, Brennan paid special attention to the photos that had been taken by some of the workers at the time of the construction. 

She remarked: “This is such a wonderful personal story to the people of Pembroke Dock; I am so

happy that this has finally been made possible.”

She also praised the scale model of the Falcon that takes centre stage in the exhibition, demonstrating the stages of construction, “This is a very clever way to show exactly how the Falcon was put together,” she added.

Brennan was given a special preview of the centre’s plans to develop and expand the exhibition by integrating both virtual and augmented reality experiences. Her son particularly enjoyed playing with the virtual Falcon model.

Project Manager Mark Williams commented: “This visit means so much to us all at the centre. After all of the hard work put in by everybody, it was a pleasure to show the results to the person who effectively made the whole project possible. We look forward to when we can welcome Lynwen and her family back to her home county again.”

Remember to vote for the Pembroke Dock Falcon exhibit in the National Lottery Awards Project of the Year competition.

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Education

MHS Big Picture on tour

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DID you know that being creative can reduce stress, anxiety and help reduce symptoms of depression? 

Milford Haven School Art Club does, and that is why they want to invite our community to join them in creating a Big Picture together for World Mental Health Day.

Charities and organisations such as 2Wish, Samaritans and Liss Listens will be teaming up with Milford Haven School to help paint our Big Picture. 

Our Big Picture will go on to be donated to the community and be displayed in Milford Haven to spread joy and positivity.

Join them on Friday, October 14 between 10am and 2pm at Pill Social Centre. No experience is needed, everyone is welcome and all equipment and refreshments will be provided on the day.

They can’t wait to see you all

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