Lessons must be learned

Date: Tuesday 8th May 2018

ON this week’s front page we reveal that failings at a former Penrith care home leading to a string of incidents over a five-year period are to be examined in a new report.

The safeguarding review into the now closed Beacon Edge care home has been led by Cumbria County Council with input from a host of other bodies including police and health trusts.

In 2013, three former care assistants at the home were jailed for what was described by a judge as “systematic abuse” and in the same year Bupa, the home’s operator, was fined £400,000 for breaches of health and safety regulations after a resident’s death.

Some readers may question the wisdom of digging into the troubling past of a care home which is now closed, over incidents which occurred years ago, with those involved having been punished.

But while it is right that the force of the law was brought down on people whose crimes were so cruel and extraordinary, it is not enough.

The institutions which are there to protect us and our families from harm are right to probe every aspect of what went wrong.

At the beginning and end of our lives we are at our most vulnerable. Those charged with caring for the elderly and sick in care homes and similar settings have a great responsibility, which most of them discharge with skill and compassion.

But when things do go wrong, the consequences for elderly, often frail, residents and their families are so dire, it is vital the causes are fully understood, and that lessons are learned for the future.