Care Agencies Probe after Shock TV Film; Pledge on Standards Wins Firm a Reprieve

Article excerpt

Byline: Deborah James

SEFTON social services department has launched an investigation into standards at all four of the care agencies it uses to look after elderly and vulnerable people at home.

The move comes after a BBC documentary on Blundellsandsbased agency Care Connect, screened on Sunday night.

Panorama reporter Fran Baker claimed she was given only 70 minutes of training after she was taken on in July,despite having no experience and fake references.

She secretly filmed footage including a scene where agency care manager Shirley Dempsey called a 91- year old woman in the later stages of Alzheimer's Diseasean ``old witch''.

The reporter was also told to be a ``bit rough'' when handling a frail elderly woman,and was told to stick a note under the door of one 90-year-old client -described as ``a pain in the arse'' -rather than check on her.

Sefton social services yesterday said the home care agency,in Byron Road, would be thoroughly scrutinised as part of an investigation into all four care agencies it used.

There are no allegations of misconduct at any of the agencies.

A council spokesman confirmed Sefton would continue using Care Connect for the time being, after it received ``urgent assurances'' that failings uncovered by Panorama had been rectified.

Last night,Care Connect, which has 120 staff and around 300 clients, revealed it had commissioned an independent organisation to conduct a separate investigation.

Agency director Carole Harris admitted no additional procedures had been brought in to check references of job applicants. …