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Examples of Whistleblowing in Care Homes

In this article we give examples of Whistleblowing in Care Homes and what to do if you see something.

Examples of whistleblowing in care homes - intelligence & risk solutions

What is Whistleblowing in Care Homes?

Whistleblowing is the act of reporting something that isn’t right. But the law requires more of whistleblowers to classify them as such and for the whistleblower to then gain the law’s protection. The law requires that the matter is reported in the public interest. It also requires that the matter is reported to a prescribed person, the employer if the reporting person is employed, to a lawyer while obtaining legal advice or to another person (employee of third party organisation reported upon) if the reporting person does not work for the organisation reported on. There are caveats to these requirements and so it is always best to seek legal advice before you report to the wrong entity because it can remove protections under the law if you are employed by the organisation in question.

It is also necessary that the whistleblower believes what they report to be substantially true, they will not gain from it and it is reasonable to make the disclosure. The person must also believe if he/she makes a disclosure not to his employer, that they do so because he/she fears retaliation or detriment. Again, it is important to seek legal advice in cases that are in doubt.

Examples of Whistleblowing in Care Homes

The below examples of whistleblowing in care homes are to help potential whistleblowers decide if what they are witnessing is actually a whistleblowing case. The examples are not exhaustive and are to be used as a guide only.

NurseWitnesses a elderly resident being roughly handledPossible abuseA report should be made in this case to a care home manager. If no action is taken, referral to the CQC should be considered, depending on the severity and surrounding circunstances.
PublicBelieves elderly relatives are not being fedPossible malnutritionA report to the care home should be made. If no action is taken the CQC can receive a report
FamilyFamily of resident notice marks on the residentPossible assaultAn inquiry with the care home management should be made to establish if the marks are accidental. From a slip or fall or other reason. The mark/injury should be documented and photographed by the family. A record of the report should be made by the home. An explanation should be made to the family accounting for the injury. Inquiries with other resident families might reveal systemic injuries hapening. In which case a CQC report should be made.
VisitorNotices property going missingPossible theftBecause of the vulnerability of residents in care, missing property should be reported to the care home. If there are other reports and it appears in the public interest to report, a whistleblowing report should be made to ascertain what is happening.
DoctorNotices charges for proceduresPossible abuseIf residents are vulnerable and do not have capacity to make decisions, care homes should not organise treatments that are additional to NHS care and chargeable without seeking the advice and approval of the family. This includes in cases where the family do not have power of attorney. A report should be made with the care home in the first instance to stop any future chargeable treatment and to ascertain if the care home receive ‘retainers’ or ‘fees’ from the treatment provider.
NurseNoitices bed sores and patients in soiled beddingPhysical injuryIncontinent elderly residents need additional care to ensure they are not left for long periods in soiled bedding. If a nurse notices patients in wet bedding in the morning that should have been changed overnight, a report should be made.
Social WorkerKids in unkempt state, dirty living conditions, under staffedPhysical abuse Failing to ‘look after’ vulnerable children in a care home setting is a form of abuse. Especially if it is endemic and a result of understaffing or poor professionalism. This should be reported.
ChemistWrong medication or over-prescriptionPotentially lethalRecords of medication prescribed to residents that can cause harm should be reported to ensure it is stopped. This is a whistleblowing matter.
Whistleblowing in Care homes – List is not exhaustive.

Whistle blowing in Health and Social Care

Whistle blowing in health and social care - intelligence & risk solutions

Whistle blowing in health and social care is a serious step. The difference between a ‘complaint’ and a whistleblowing matter can be a fine line. The general advise is;

  • If it appears deliberate it is whistleblowing
  • If it is affecting more than one resident it is whistleblowing
  • If it is criminal against the vulnerable it is whistleblowing
  • If it is serious it is whistleblowing
  • If it is a personal or individual experience it is a complaint
  • If it is generic customer service it is a complaint
  • If it is only to express dissatisfaction it is a complaint

Whistleblowing is important in health and social care settings – here’s why…

Firstly and most obviously, the residents tend to be vulnerable. Usually through age (young or old) and sometimes through disability. There are frequent examples of local authorities, private facilities and the police getting this substantially wrong. It is for these reasons it is incumbent on us all to be vigilant around vulnerable residents and to report what we see. Whether you decide to report internally to the home or care setting, or to go external, the important thing is to actually report.

Your report might just ‘nip something in the bud’ before it gets serious. It can be as simple as asking to see a manager and ensuring your concern is written down and recorded. You can also record via an email to formally follow something up, and take photographs of what you see.

If matters do not improve and the behaviours you witness are still ongoing, then it is time to report externally to the home. The CQC can be best placed for this and you can report anonymously to them via our reporting channels. Just download the app and we will ensure the CQC get your report. This way you can stay anonymous and know that through our reporting channel, the CQC will get your report.