Louis Theroux: Extreme Love Dementia.

April 27, 2012 at 11:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Louis Theroux’s documentary ‘Extreme Love’ aired on BBC Two last night looked to the lives of people who are living dementia. Working in an industry which deals primarily with elderly people I understand how dementia can change lives, not only for sufferers but also carers, and feel that Louis Theroux’s documentary gave a touching insight into the reality of dementia.

Louis visited families in America who were affected by dementia. Interestingly he met a variety of people all of whom were at different stages of the disease and relied on care in one form or another.

Louis Theroux Extreme Love Dementia Gary

Louis Theroux with Gary

First was Gary, a 69 year old former dentist living in a care home. Although his memory would come and go, Garry didn’t remember his wife as his spouse. Instead he thought she was a former colleague which was incredibly difficult to watch but illustrated the reality of how much of an impact dementia has on everyone involved.

Across town Louis meet up with one of the most surprising cases for me, Selinda, a 49 year old mother to her 9 year old daughter. Although Selinda looked incredibly happy and healthy her dementia was progressively getting worse and will almost certainly lead to her having little or no memory of her family.

While the documentary sensitively caught the sad truth of dementia it also captured some fantastic moments which leads me to 89 year old Nancy, a charming lady with Alzheimer’s who is looked after by her husband John.

Louis Theroux and Nancy Extreme Love Dementia

Louis Theroux and Nancy

Although in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and clearly forgetful and confused at times, Nancy was a joy to watch. Funny, charismatic and loving she and Louis appeared to have formed a real bond which was lovely to watch and probably why the programmed proved to be so poignant; maybe one of Louis Theroux’s most affecting pieces yet.

A real rollercoaster ride which gives a true insight into dementia definitely one to watch- catch up on BBC iPlayer now.

Panorama Undercover: Elderly Care

April 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Panorama is no stranger to unveiling shocking truths. Only last year an undercover investigation by Panorama resulted in a police investigation and the arrest of carer workers at a Bristol care facility where ill treatment of patients with learning disabilities was caught on camera.

Last night Panorama unearthed the story of Maria Worroll. An elderly lady who suffers from Alzheimer’s and was a resident at Ash Court care home in North London where she should have received full time care. 

Only six weeks into Maria’s stay her daughter, Jane, noticed bruising on her mother’s body and felt that Maria had become increasing introverted and generally unhappy. Trying to work out why Maria felt this way Jane planted a secret camera in her mum’s room to see what care Maria was actually receiving.

fiona phillips, Maria and Jane Worroll

Fiona Phillips with Maria and Jane Worroll in Panorama

The footage is truly shocking. Maria’s care plan wasn’t followed correctly, she was forced fed and her wishes to receive personal care from female carers only were ignored. In only 2 nights worth of footage Maria was subject to neglect and both verbal and physical abuse.

Five carers were filmed in Maria’s room at Ash Court over the course of secret filming, each of them failed to communicate with her and none offered Maria any reassurance when she was clearly distressed. Instead Maria was isolated with no entertainment, the television was only switched on when carers wished to watch, and Maria’s needs appeared to be disregarded despite her Alzheimer’s.

Most distressingly was the physical abuse caught on film, Maria was slapped 6 times by a male carer, pushed and shoved around a bed and manhandled because it would appear that the carers didn’t care to use as hoist as required. Outrageous and shocking but sadly the reality of Maria’s experience.

Jane’s footage was shown to Ash Court management, Quality Care Commission and Forest Healthcare, the owners of Ash Court. Their responses to the footage seemed to me to be lacklustre. CQC’s report doesn’t publish the matter that a serious case of abuse to a vulnerable person occurred in a facility which they rated as ‘excellent’. And the Chief Executive of New Forest reported that 4 of the 5 would return to work after a training process to ensure similar incidents didn’t occur again, which simply doesn’t seem good enough.

Unsatisfied Jane took her footage to the police and social workers who lead an investigation and later charged the male carer, Jonathon Aquino, with assault and ill treatment. He will now serve 18 months in prison. After five months the 4 other carers in question were sacked from Ash Court.

Maria is now in a different care home where her needs are being attended to properly. She is happy, out of bed and able to enjoy her life once again. Panorama’s report, which was lead my Fiona Phillips was utterly devastating and has raises further questions as to whether care homes in Briton are providing thorough, reliable and genuine care for their residence or slipping into decline.

Although difficult to watch I hope that this episode of Panorama will put more emphasis on enabling elderly people to stay at home, independently, for as long as possible. As I truly believe that this could avoid such mindless abuse and neglect to vulnerable elderly people.

Watch Panorama Undercover: Elderly Care on BBC iPlayer now.

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