Woman recognised by Queen for social work condemns Haringey dementia care

Carmen Guerrini and Eileen Cowgill attend 'Barbara.' Credit: BBC London

Carmen Guerrini and Eileen Cowgill attend 'Barbara.' Credit: BBC London - Credit: Archant

A woman recognised by the Queen for social care service expressed “shame” at being a Haringey Labour member after a report showed a pensioner with dementia living in squalor.

An 81-year-old Haringey woman has “painfully overgrown” toenails and there are faeces smeared on the walls and pillows of her home, as shown in a BBC London report earlier this month.

“I cried all evening,” wrote Ingrid Alexander CBE, former chairwoman of a council for social work training, in an e-mail to Haringey councillors.

“It made me ashamed to be a member of the Labour Party in Haringey - the poor woman lived alone, had dementia and her double incontinence needs were not being met.

“Her mattress was wet with urine (I could only imagine the stench), and the bathroom was filthy.

“Shame on those of us who have a corporate responsibility for our vulnerable neighbours, and don’t even know when we are failing.”

In the report, “Barbara”, who has dementia, is being cared for by her two friends, Carmen and Eileen.

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She is also receiving half hour visits from a social worker from a private agency three or four times a day.

But a source writing on a public forum claims the locks were changed on Barbara’s door by Haringey Council so her friends can no longer get in to help her.

Former councillor and social care worker Alan Stanton is in touch with one of Barbara’s neighbours on a nearby street and says he believes this is correct.

“[Barbara’s] been able to live in the community by having good neighbours and they are being excluded from getting into the flat,” he said.

“It’s part and parcel of how we look after people who are vulnerable - you see them in the street, say ‘how are you?’”

Mr Stanton says this part of a wider story of national cuts and pressures on council budgets, but he believes Haringey Council should be held to account.

“I’m very upset and ashamed this is Haringey,” Mr Stanton said. “It’s 2016 and this is what we’ve come to.”

A Haringey Council spokeswoman said: “We take our responsibility to all residents receiving care extremely seriously. Whilst it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of individual cases, we have been in frequent contact with this resident, including regularly visiting her at home and promptly investigating concerns that were raised to us.

“The support that is currently provided in this case, which includes four daily visits, is in line with the resident’s express wishes and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure that this remains the case.

“We are also working with our contracted care provider to help identify and implement improvements to the service they provide.”