Relatives & Residents Association

We support, inform and speak on behalf of older people in care


Horrific widespread abuse reported by nursing home staff

26 January 2017: The Nursing Times yesterday revealed the shocking details of a survey on the Abuse of residents in nursing homes: results of a staff questionnaire[1].   This stated that  88.5% of respondents (out of 207 recently appointed staff in five nursing homes) had seen or suspected  abuse by care workers and nursing staff.   We know from the latest Safeguarding Statistics[2] that older residents of care homes are particularly vulnerable to abuse. This survey gives details of staff accounts of appalling practices in nursing homes and describes many dehumanising and degrading actions by those employed to care for people at the end of their lives.  They also illustrate the struggle that many relatives have when raising concerns about family members in care


The report quotes examples of “cocooning” i.e. making up a bed to prevent a resident from moving and interfering with their incontinence pad, and “hooking”, using clothing to ‘hook’ a resident to a toilet to prevent them from moving.  These practices were found in a variety of locations, suggesting that such techniques may well be widespread.


The article also highlighted the fact that many of the abusive actions are not easily detected or easily perceptible by observers and become part of the hidden culture of the home.   The report concludes that current “governance, safeguarding and regulatory processes to evaluate the quality of older people’s care in private sector nursing homes are often ineffective” which means that such abuse will continue unless there are major changes.

CQC’s misguided stance on complaints

This is the reason why we argue that:

  • the CQC,the regulator, must abandon its misguided stance on complaints
  • it must take relatives’ and visitors’ concerns seriously and stop stating that:
    “We can’t make these complaints for you or take them up on your behalf”
  • there must be more rigorous and more frequent inspections by experienced practitioners
  • improved training of staff and managers is urgent and essential
  • we need to stop the continuing drift to light touch ‘regulation’ which has failed residents

If you have witnessed or suspect poor care, please call our Helpline: 020-7359-8136 and we will report your concerns to the Care Quality Commission.

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[1] Moore S (2017) Abuse of residents in nursing homes: results of a staff questionnaire. Nursing Times [online]; 113: 2, 29-33.

[2] *Safeguarding Adults 2015-2016, Experimental Statistics, NHS Digital

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