Care homes need more nurses and less bosses says wife of dementia sufferer

16:58 29 March 2013

John Westwell

John Westwell

Archant

AN AUTHOR who has written a book detailing her husband’s twenty year decline with dementia has criticised the care system in the UK which she says has too many bosses and not enough nurses.

Rosemary Westwell, whose husband John has been in care since being diagnosed with dementia at the age of just 46, said she has seen a decline in proper old fashioned caring because there were too many health and safety regulations and too many people involved in the consultation process.

“There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” said Mrs Westwell of Ely, whose husband has been at Heron House in March since 2006.

Rules and regulations getting in the way of common sense happened recently, she said, when she took in a can of Guinness to celebrate the birth of their sixth grandchild.

The care assistant on duty did not know if Mr Westwell was allowed to have any so passed the query to her line manager who also did not know.

The request was then sent to his GP who, a week later, has yet to reply as to whether he can have a celebratory drink.

The can of Guinness, meanwhile, sits untouched on the bedside table.

“This is a slightly ridiculous and somewhat humorous example but things like this happen all the time,” she said.

“Staff are so worried about doing the wrong thing that they end up doing nothing.

“While individual nurses and managers have been caring and sympathetic many have not because of a lack of awareness and an embedded arrogant assumption of superiority.

“It is not just health care assistants who need a code of conduct it is health care managers and the government bodies responsible,” she said.

She was driven to write her own assessment of her husband in order to put those making the decision about him “in the picture, she said, which amounted to the Primary Care Trust, the mental health team, local authority care commissioners and safeguarding team, the care quality commission, advocates and his GP.

“Very few people have personal knowledge of John,” she said and instead it is a consultation process by many.

“Until our Government stop cutting costs and provide more hands on nurses there is little hope of positive change,” she said.

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