Local care home closed over financial abuse fears
As reported in the Romford Recorder, Alton House Care Home in Havering was forced to close earlier this month following concerns of insufficient protection for residents against the risk of abuse and harm.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) had previously inspected the Care Home in October 2018, placing it under special measures as a consequence of poor standards. The Romford Recorder reports that CQC’s observations “indicates financial abuse as people had their property stolen, misused and they had been defrauded”.
There was no significant improvement following a re-inspection in January 2020 and so the decision was made to close the Care Home and relocate the residents.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial Abuse is a wide concept and can take many different forms. It could be as simple as theft (for example a carer stealing cash from a patient). However, the circumstances could also be more nuanced, where a third party, intentionally or otherwise, limits or infringes the financial independence of another (such as an adult child living in the household but passing on all household expenditure to the elderly parent).
Often financial abuse is perpetrated by a partner or close family member, but it can be anyone. It could involve the partner putting pressure on you to give them access to your funds, or simply helping themselves in circumstances where you are unaware or in a position to give informed consent.
Sometimes, the abuse is harder to identify where it does not directly relate to money. For example, someone pressured or forced to change your will could be the victim of financial abuse. Likewise, a vulnerable person who feels obligated to follow instructions or allow access to their finances from a care-giver, out of fear the care or freedom might otherwise be taken away.
Manzurul Islam, Head of Dispute Resolution at Mullis & Peake LLP, said:
“In this particular case, the perpetrators were reported to be carers at Alton House who were found to have taken advantage of their power and position by exploiting the vulnerabilities of their residents.
“More often than not in financial abuse cases, the abuser is someone in a position of trust or in a close relationship to the victim, making them harder to identify. Indeed, sometimes the abuser may not even recognise their actions amount to financial abuse, for example a son or daughter who justifies their actions as simply taking an inheritance entitlement early, or jewellery the parent ‘would have wanted them to have.’ This is still likely to amount to abuse.
“The above means it is more important for others, such as neighbours, extended family and social workers to be mindful of the risks. If a vulnerable person’s expenditure is not being used solely for their benefit, they may be the victim of financial abuse. If in doubt, it is safest to report it. This could be to the Local Authority, CQC, the Office of Public Guardian or even the police, as Financial Abuse is a crime.
“If in doubt, contact a lawyer or specialist who can give more detailed advice and also help to recover misappropriated funds.”