Are Bupa Care Homes Putting The Most Vulnerable At Risk?


The Law Of... safeguarding elderly and vulnerable individuals

As one of the most well-known names in healthcare, Bupa has been told that it must make urgent improvements to 90 of its 238 homes in the UK.

Are Bupa Care Homes Putting Residents At Risk?

Costing up to £1,000 a week for some residents, some Bupa homes have been found to be 'dangerously understaffed', creating unsafe environments for the most vulnerable and elderly.

This news emerged following the deaths of several vulnerable residents, which were believed to be linked to the 'poor care' received whilst they were living in Bupa homes.

Bupa might also be facing criminal charges after its unsafe practices allegedly resulted in the death of 86-year-old resident, Kenneth Ibbetson, who died from Legionnaire's disease.

Failing The Most Vulnerable

These allegations appear to be the tip of the iceberg as investigations by the healthcare watchdog exposed several serious concerns, including the following:

  • Rather than paying attention to the sheer lack of staff within its homes and the dangers this poses to residents, Bupa has been more focused in increasing the number of residents
  • Some elderly residents spend all day in bed simply because there's a lack of staff to help them get dressed
  • Some residents are malnourished and dehydrated, with only a few being given a few mouthfuls of water to drink in a day
  • One elderly resident sustained a fracture, which was left untreated for 1 week

Bupa currently employs around 84,000 staff who work with around 32million people in 190 countries. In spite of Bupa's promise that 'our focus is your health', last month an inquest heard that Bupa failed to act on warnings over the risk of Legionella at the Bupa home where Kenneth Ibbetson was living.

Even after being warned twice in the span of 2 years that the lack of training given to staff about Legionella was putting residents at risk, Bupa failed to act. The manager of the care home where Kenneth was living admitted during the inquest into his death that the "sheer work load" prevented her from being able to deliver the relevant training to staff – training that could have saved Kenneth's life.

Putting Bupa Under The Microscope

According to recent inspection reports examined by the Daily Mail:

  • Around one third of Bupa care homes have been found to be 'inadequate' or in need of 'improvement' by the Care Quality Commission
  • 78 of the 238 homes in the UK have been categorised as 'requiring improvement' and have been informed that they must make improvements
  • 12 homes were rated as 'inadequate' – the lowest rating available – which means that the regulator has had to take action

In some extreme cases, inspectors found that the lack of staff in some Bupa homes meant that elderly residents were left filthy, malnourished, dehydrated, and suffering from pain and distress.

On top of this, the reports expose the unsafe practices of some of the homes:

  • Residents at Chilton Meadows Residential and Nursing Home in Suffolk, for example, had suffered from around 100 falls in around 5 months. Disturbingly, the reports also found that some of the staff were making fun of the residents
    Inspectors were also told by one resident that "it's terrible, I hate every minute of it."
  • Monmouth Court Nursing home in Ipswich was another of the homes in which the most shocking incidents occurred – one resident was found to have fallen 59 times over the span of 10 months
  • In another home, one resident was even found to have been deprived of water for around 24 hours

Commenting on the tragic state of affairs, Joan Elliot – the acting general manager of Bupa UK Care Services – said: "we're absolutely committed to providing all our residents with high quality care."

"Any allegations are immediately investigated, and we take swift action where there are failings. Most of our care homes are rated positively by the Care Quality Commission. We have strict staffing standards in all our homes and if we are short staffed it is standard practice to cover shifts by bringing in additional nurses or carers."

"Access to high quality nurses is a continuing challenge across the care sector, so we are working with the government to tackle this."

Since 2004, the Health and Safety Executive has brought 7 prosecutions of Bupa's care homes and is now considering criminal charges over Mr Ibbetson's death.

Jennifer Turnbull, Associate Solicitor in our care homes department comments:

"It's incredibly heart-breaking to read about the mistreatment of the most vulnerable in society, when they've placed their trust in one of the biggest names in the care homes sector."

"The purpose of care homes is to provide the level of care and support that the elderly and vulnerable cannot get elsewhere or would find it impossible to survive without. For them to be denied the most basic level of care as well as being mocked is disgraceful. Understandably, this makes it very hard for the elderly, vulnerable, and their families to have faith in the care homes system."

"Regardless of whether an individual's stay in a care home is funded by the NHS or they are paying the steep fees demanded by some care homes, they should be treated with respect and looked after properly."

"If you or your loved one are living in a care home and are thinking of making a complaint or need some no-obligation advice, get in touch with our Care Homes team as soon as possible."

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