A social care leader has called for a “fundamental change of culture” in the wake of damning review into alleged abuse at six care homes.
According to Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, the review had highlighted “abhorrent” cases of neglect that must never be allowed to happen again.
The independent review was ordered by the Welsh Government into the allegations at in six homes in South Wales owned by Dr Prana Das.
The scandal prompted a massive inquiry called Operation Jasmine which was launched in 2005 and cost £11.6 million.
The case collapsed after Dr Das suffered a brain injury and could not stand trial, leaving families “frustrated” in their search for justice.
Mr Kreft welcomed the comprehensive review by Dr Margaret Flynn and its wide-ranging recommendations.
He felt a fundamental change of culture was needed to help root out bad practice, encourage people to highlight any problems and then work together to put things right.
Whilst it was always important to prosecute wrong-doers, Mr Kreft, stressed the importance of more real collaboration and transparency in the sector.
He said: “We very much welcome this important review and we have to make sure that these abhorrent events never happen again.
“We must collaborate to work in a very different way in the future – not just in identifying poor services but improving all the services we provide.
“A great deal of what is being recommended in the report chimes with what Care Forum Wales has been saying for 25 years, that social care providers need to work collaboratively on a local, regional and national level.
“Equally, we believe it fits in with government policy and we would like to see all providers of services to vulnerable people having to be part of these structures because this is something that will enhance quality.
“For too long in Wales we have seen independent social care provision, particularly in care homes, being thought of as being outside public service, so it’s almost been a case of the public sector provision being thought of as being good and the private sector as being bad. That has never been the case and this tragic example doesn’t prove it.
“What we do know is that we have to work in a different way and the report quite rightly points to the need to regard social care as a sector of national importance, like the road and railway networks.
“We must redefine the relationship between the public and private sectors.
“You can only improve social care services by having well run, well managed services by people who are competent and trained to do the job.
“In Wales there are far too few people being attracted to the sector and the low level of commissioning budgets means that the terms and conditions for people who work in social care are not at the level they should be.
“The vast majority of people working in the sector are very committed and want to do a good job and if we don’t encourage people we are never going to have the services we need.
“It’s absolutely essential we learn lessons from other industries as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have advocated. They have talked at length about relationship-centred care in places like Essex where there is evidence, if you get the providers, the commissioners and the regulators working together, the quality of services for vulnerable people shows a marked improvement.
“In particular, as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests, we can learn from the aviation industry where a no blame culture encourages people to come forward and collectively get it right.
“We need to create a climate where people take responsibility, promote transparency and not become even more risk averse than they already are.
“If we there had been a no blame culture and real partnership in social care 20 years ago in social care in Wales, we almost certainly would not have had the need for this review to be published today.
“We have come a long we but we still have a long way to go. We have to use this opportunity as an absolute red line to make a real difference.”