Care homes injuries treble

INJURIES reported in Suffolk's residential care homes for the elderly and people with learning disabilities have almost trebled in three years.

Anthony Bond

INJURIES reported in Suffolk's residential care homes for the elderly and people with learning disabilities have almost trebled in three years.

The number of reported injuries in Suffolk County Council's 16 residential care homes was 349 last year - up from 121 in 2006.

The information, obtained by the EADT following a Freedom of Information request, shows that the number of injuries as a result of assaults and violence rose from 33 in 2006 to 107 last year.

Suffolk County Council last nightsaid residential care was increasingly being provided for frail older people with dementia-type conditions and there was also an increased culture of reporting.

But the Suffolk Pensioners' Association (SPA) said the figures were “disturbing”.

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Cliff Horne, chairman of the SPA, said: “I think the figures would concern relatives of people in residential homes. A lot more needs to be done for people suffering from dementia. It is an increasing problem and more needs to be done but it reflects on the individual training of staff and the money available in budgets. The figures show a disturbing trend but you could also say that people are getting more outward with complaints and not being intimidated. In the past they may have felt threatened and felt that they would be thrown out.”

Out of the 16 care homes in the county, Sidegate Lane in Ipswich - which mainly deals with dementia-sufferers - had the most number of reported injuries totalling 123 from 2006 to April this year.

Ixworth Court - which provides care for 22 frail elderly residents near Bury St Edmunds - has also seen a large increase with no injuries reported in 2006, two the following year and 53 last year. Of these, 29 were as a result of assaults.

The majority of reported injuries across all 16 residential care homes in Suffolk are following assaults or falls. But there are also a number of bizarre ways in which people have been injured.

At Blyford in Lowestoft, a person was injured following 'exposure to vibration' while at Davers Court in Bury St Edmunds somebody was injured by an animal.

Other injuries were picked up as a result of 'sharps incident', 'exposure to, or contact with, harmful substance ' and 'exposure to shocking, disturbing or distressing information or events'.

Rob Parker, Suffolk County Council's residential services manager, said the figures were evidence that the authority takes residents' care seriously: “Because we monitor our risk assessment on a regular basis and discuss issues around quality of care and issues relating to staff, etc, these figures were not a shock to me because I understand the growing dependency of people and the increased culture of reporting.

“I would not say there is anything to be concerned about for relatives and people in homes and if they are concerned they should talk to the manager of that home.”