After the unearthing of a major scandal at the Pines Residential Home in Gwynedd, Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy, as the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Social Care, Children, Young People, and Older People, challenged the Minister for Social Care on the situation in the chamber, and has gone on to express her fear that the system we currently have in place is failing some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“I have been horrified to learn about allegations of elder abuse and neglect at the Pines Residential Home in Gwynedd.
“Footage has come to light of this home, and allegations of falsifying of documents, medications hidden in residents' food, use of unsafe methods of moving residents and an overall lack of dignity and respect in their treatment and care.
“Such treatment and failure to meet the standards expected in Wales was highlighted by Y Byd ar Bedwar on S4C, and myself in the Senedd last week.
“Bearing in mind the fact that the residential facility was already known to Care Inspectorate Wales and had a number of critical reports against it, I asked the Minister for Social Care to ensure that any homes such as Pines facilities are put on strict, meaningful improvement programmes, to ensure that vulnerable residents are safeguarded against any malpractice or neglect.
“Whilst the Minister was constrained on what he could say about Pines due to an inspection currently being undertaken, I cannot hide my concern at what now seems to be reality: that the Care Inspectorate is not succeeding in ensuring that serious problems are being addressed.
“I cannot help now but worry about standards of care across Wales as I seem to have a justified fear that the system we currently have in place is failing some of the most vulnerable in our society”.
Diolch, Llywydd. Minister, I'm sure that you are as horrified as I am to learn of the horrific failings and incidences of alleged abuse and neglect at the Pines residential home in Gwynedd. From the footage that has come to light at this home, there is apparent evidence of falsifying documents, medications hidden in residents' food, unsafe methods of moving residents and an overall lack of dignity and respect in their treatment and care. These are all incidences that fall well below what is expected within Wales and its own care regulations, all highlighted as a result of some investigative journalism shown last night on the Y Byd ar Bedwar S4C programme that I watched. What concerns me, Minister, is that this residential facility was already known to Care Inspectorate Wales and had a number of critical reports against its conduct and treatment of residents, but the poor treatment of its vulnerable adults has clearly continued. What is your Government doing alongside CIW to ensure that any facilities, such as the Pines residential home, are put on strict, meaningful improvement programmes, to ensure that the vulnerable residents are safeguarded against any malpractice or neglect?
Response by Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care:
Thank you for the question, and yes, I've seen the programme Y Byd ar Bedwar, and we're very aware of the concerns that have been raised regarding the Pines in Criccieth, as is the care inspectorate. The inspectorate took immediate action on being made aware of those issues identified by S4C at the Pines, and its inspection is ongoing as we speak. Now, because of that, it's difficult for me to comment any further about the Pines itself at the moment, but you do rightly point out that, actually, there have been improvement plans and inspections previously that have led to improvement measures within this home. It’s right that the inspectorate is in there right now investigating the latest allegations, as they remain at the moment—allegations—and to see what needs to be done. But it is difficult for me to comment further on the Pines.
What I can say as well, though, is that the care inspectorate carried out over 600 inspections as part of its regular inspection and regulation regime last year, but, of course, it’s always able, on the reporting of any incidents of possible abuse, neglect or whatever, to actually go into a home at a moment’s notice, and that’s what it's done in this respect.
You asked also what can the Welsh Government do further? I think that there are things that we can do and that we are doing. Only a couple of years ago, this Assembly took forward the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016. That is significantly different, because, for example, that places quite firmly, within law, requirements on providers and designated responsible individuals for care homes so we know where the buck stops as well. But it also moves away from minimum standards of provision, which, if you have a minimum standard, people choose to meet the minimum standard and no more, and it focuses instead on continual improvement, which is what we want to get from all our care home settings. But it also places an emphasis on the importance of the individual—on their care, their support and on supporting them in what their needs are. We won't get there overnight on this, but this is what the Welsh Government can do: set the framework for both the regulator and for care homes to constantly drive improvement.