Alarm bells ringing over elderly care...

EVERY day alarm bells are being sounded over the way elderly and vulnerable people in Calderdale are being cared for.

Although the total number of safeguarding alerts fell slightly to 347 in 2010/11, the upward trend is continuing, according to the Calderdale Safeguarding Adults Board.

“Data for the first half of 2011/12 shows a return to the levels of safeguarding alerts received prior to the period of this report,” said board chairman Bill Hodson in his annual report.

“The major challenge is maintaining the momentum for improvement at a time when all public services are facing severe spending restrictions and major structural changes are taking place in the NHS.”

Reported incidents of potential abuse and neglect went up steadily from 273 in 2007/8 to 430 in 2009/10.

“Figures for 2010/11 would appear to be an anomaly that could be explained by changes in data collection systems and processes and changes to the operation of Gateway to Care,” according to the report. Just under half of all incidents occurred in residential and nursing homes and hospitals.

One in six alarms was sounded by a family member, friend or neighbour and two thirds by care professionals.

Of the 347 incidents brought to the attention of the safeguarding board, 192 were accepted as serious to need reviewing and 52 resulted in risk assessments.

Many alerts are sounded even though it is uncertain people are actually at risk.

Mr Hodson said procedures used to detect abuse, refer and investigate cases and take action to protect adults at risk of harm has been overhauled.