FAQs about injuries and abuse


Are risk assessments important?

Bedsores are avoidable.  To achieve this it is important for health professionals to assess a person's risk of developing them.

 

The most frequently used risk assessment system is known as the "Waterlow Pressure, Ulcer, Prevention/Treatment Policy".  This system requires health care professionals to consider and assess such things as an individual's Body Mass Index, skin type, sex and age, nutrition, continents and mobility. If a risk assessment has not been done or not carried out correctly, it can be indicative of negligence and lack of care.

 

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Types of bedsores?

Bedsores are staged into four types plus an additional category described as Unstageable.  
>Stage one is the mildest and stage four is the most serious.  Stage one results in little or no skin loss.  

>Stage two results in skin loss extending through all layers of the epidermis.

> Stage three involves complete destruction of the skin.

> Stage four involves destruction of the underlying muscle and bone degeneration.

 

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Treatments available?

Bedsores treatments can be variable dependant on the type which has been diagnosed.  Patients and their carers should consider the type of multi-disciplinary team that has been assigned to treat them.  

 

Possible skill sets include a Tissue Viability Nurse, Dietician, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist and Social Worker.   Treatments can include dressings, creams and ointments, antibiotics and in some cases surgery, debridement and maggot therapy.

 

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What is involved in a bedsore claim?

Courts are seeing an ever increasing number of claims for bedsores.  They can arise in many settings such as nursing homes, hospitals or even at home because of a lack of correct health care treatment.  

 

Bedsores can cause secondary complaints such as blood poisoning, cellulitis, gangrene and bone and joint infection.  Death can be caused in a serious case.  

 

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Can you make a complaint or claim as a result of bedsores?

Yes you can if it was someone else's fault.  Claims for compensation can include claims for pain and suffering, rehabilitation costs, the costs of future care and out of pocket expenses.  How much depends on the type of bedsore suffered.

 

if you want to complain, initially a person should complain using a providers internal complaints procedure, the local government ombudsmen for care provided by local authority, the Care Quality Commission who is responsible for registering and controlling all health care providers and in the case of the NHS a complaint to the relevant local clinical commissioning group of NHS England. You can also complain using abdcare.

 

Complaints can be against an institution or an individual involved in the health care system.  For more information contact abdcare.

 

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Do falls happen often?

Falls represent the most frequent accident for the over 65s.

Men and women are equally at risk when they are in the 65-74 age group.  For people over 74, women are twice as likely to fall.

 

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What are the causes of falls?

There are many causes.  They can include an individual's history of falling.  

 

If a person has fallen once, they are two to three times more likely to fall again.  Other causes can be weak muscles, poor balance and gait and impaired vision.  Other causes include physical disability, lifestyle choice and environmental factors.

 

In the health care industry falls can be caused to people by lack of training, resource and risk assessments.

 

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What can be the consequences of falling?

Most falls will result will result in arm, leg and shoulder injuries.These injuries will often result in fractures of the hip, wrist and spinal fractures.  Fractures can result in osteoporosis.

 

Falls can have significant psychologicall effects in particular as to a person's confidence and are frequently cited as a major reason for admisssions to longer term, residential institutions.

 

If a person suffers a fall their normal activity in most cases is disrupted for a month which time period can be much longer if the fall is more significant.

 

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Can you make a claim or complaint as a result of a fall?

Yes you can if it was someone else's fault.

 

Claims for compensation can include claims for pain and suffering, rehabilitation costs, the costs of future care and out of pocket expenses.  

 

How much depends on the type of fall suffered.  If you want to complain initially when a person should complain using a providers internal complaints procedure, the local government ombudsmen for care provided by local authority, the Care Quality Commission who is responsible for registering and controlling all health care providers and in the case of the NHS a complaint to the relevant local clinical commissioning group of NHS England.You can also complain using abdcare.

 

Complaints can be against an institution or an individual involved in the health care system.  For more information contact abdcare.

 

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What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse has been known about since the mid-1970s.  

 

It is only more recently that it has been recognised as a serious social problem.  It is frequently hidden and therefore difficult to measure.  

 

Elder abuse does not have a precise legal definition.  It can take many forms and in this country the distribution of the different types is estimated to be 38% psychological, 20% financial, 20% physical, 10% neglect, 2% sexual and balance falls under the category other.

 

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Who are the most likely victims and abusers?

The people and institutions who are most likely to abuse are family members or care staff.  Abuse is not limited to people or institutions in a position of trust.  It extends in the modern world to scams.

 

The organisation Action on Elder Abuse states that women over the age of 70 who are alone, frail and dependant are most likely to be abused.

 

The Office of the Public Guardian and The Court of Protection who monitor financial and welfare abuses against older people who put their trust in Attorneys and Deputies say that the most likely abusers are sons and daughters.  In saying this it has to be remembered that with Lasting Powers of Attorney it is sons and daughters who are most regularly appointed as Attorneys.

 

The most likely people or institutions to raise concerns and who complain to the Office of The Public Guardian are often relatives, friends and local authorities. 

 

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What to do if you suspect abuse?

If you suspect abuse and if possible always consider discussing matters with the person you suspect has been abused.

 

Local authorities have a must do safe guarding duty as a result of the Care Act 2014.  If you wish to find out more information and advice on elder abuse go to your local authorities website and if thereafter you wish to report abuse go to your local authorities Adult Safe Guarding Board direct or via Adult Social Care.

 

Alternatives for reporting purposes include the police for violence and other serious crime.  In respect of abusers who have been entrusted to look after a victims finances or welfare go to the Office of the Public Guardian who have a safe guarding role and have a duty to investigate.  If the abuse relates to a health care institution or a member of staff go to the Care Quality Commission who have a range of powers and sanctions if abuse is upheld.

 

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Can a local authority remove a person from their own home?

No they cannot.  Neither a local authority or the police have the right to enter a person's home to investigate abuse.  The power to do so was considered prior to giving the Care Act 2014 Royal Assent.  It was rejected on the grounds that it was a step too far.

 

If however a person agrees to leave their home and does so they can be taken to a safe place whilst a safe guarding enquiry by the local authority takes place.

 

If somebody lacks mental capacity there are limited powers for a local authority.  For the purposes of not abusing their position they should firstly carry out an enquiry under their safe guarding procedures.  If as a result of the enquiry the situation investigated justifies the same they should put in place a care plan and apply to the Court of Protection for the person to be removed from their home.

 

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Can you make a claim or complaint as a result of elderly abuse?

In respect of complaints and reporting procedures see the answer to the question what to do if you suspect abuse.

 

If you have suffered physical, mental or other abuse at the hands of an abuser you can instruct a specialist solicitor and consider making an application for an injunction and/a claim for damages for pain and suffering and financial loss.

 

For more information on complaints and claims contact abdcare.

 

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