Richard was physically abused by staff working for the States, an investigation found

A woman whose autistic brother was abused by care workers is calling for greater transparency from the States of Guernsey when investigating complaints.

Julia Le Pelley's brother Richard was physically abused by three staff working for the States last year, who were later sacked.

Health and Social Care Committee President Al Brouard said the care "fell well below" expected standards.

He said the case was "distressing" and he was "outraged" by what occurred.

The committee's investigation found three separate incidents of abuse in January 2023 against Richard by three separate staff members.

The report found:

  • One of Richard's carers, known as Staff B, "caused injury to his hand by bending his fingers backwards"
  • Staff D "pushed and shouted" at him
  • Staff E "hit him on the head and shouted at him"

'Losing battle'

Mrs Le Pelley said she had to battle to get information about the incidents and she questioned why there was no independent body to investigate allegations of abuse in care.

She said: "It wears you down, you think are you ever going to get anywhere with this?

"The States are the sort of department who can keep this info, so you feel like you're fighting a losing battle."

Mrs Le Pelley asked for her brother to be moved from where he is currently being cared for, but said she was told by the States there was nowhere else on the island.

She said too little was known about the backgrounds of agency staff.

"What worries us is what qualifications these agency staff had, who vets them?" she added.

"Is it Health and Social Care (HSC)? The agency? We don't know.

"We don't know whether these people are still working within care elsewhere."


Mrs Le Pelley asked for her brother to be moved from where is being cared for at the moment

'Immediately removed'

HSC said agency staff at this level were vetted externally by the agency which employed them.

Mr Brouard said the care provided to Richard "fell well below the standards we seek to meet" and the three agency staff in question were "immediately removed".

He said information was also provided to the supply agencies for them to "consider whether they should be placed in any health or social care settings in future".

He added this case was, in his view, evidence of the committee having processes which meant incidents "could be effectively investigated".

"All our staff are employed in positions of trust, and we are frankly as outraged as service users, families, and the wider community if that trust is broken and behaviour falls below the high standards we all rightly expect," he said.

"What this case shows is that, as distressing as it was, our investigations found that abuse had occurred, the staff were immediately removed.

"The culture of continuous learning that we have sought to maintain was effective as work has been carried out with staff to ensure they are confident in raising any concerns about poor quality of care."

Mrs Le Pelley said the situation left her worried about her brother's future care and whether there had been other incidents despite receiving an apology from the States.

The investigation found a hand injury was observed on Richard on 5 January and was reviewed by a GP on 11 January and treated as unexplained.

It said a "safeguarding alert" was not raised at the time because there was no evidence of abuse or neglect.

'Unreasonably withheld information'

Concerns were subsequently raised by another staff member who said he witnessed physical abuse of Richard.

A safeguarding inquiry commenced on 24 January, the report said.

Mrs Le Pelley said one of her main areas of concern with the investigation was the level of redaction by HSC.

A police report was made into the incident, but Mrs Le Pelley has only been able to see it recently after working with the data protection authority to get it released by HSC.

Guernsey Police said it fully investigated but no further action was taken.

Mrs Le Pelley said: "I know we can't know the names of these people, but we need to know what they were doing and how often.

"It shouldn't have been a fight to get this info."

'Prolonged distress'

The Office of the Data Protection Authority (ODPA) said HSC breached two sections of the law relating to data subject rights.

"It unreasonably withheld information and resisted attempts by the family to obtain the full report," it said.

"Whilst a basic apology was provided by HSC initially and prior to the authority's involvement, the lack of the safeguarding report meant it was difficult for the family to be assured that what had happened would not happen again."

It said the report had now been released after an enforcement order but "without any recognition of the prolonged distress caused by the approach they adopted".

It added: "This was a very stressful experience for the family who wanted to make sure that their loved one was safe."

Mr Brouard said "the safeguarding report we produced was shared with the family, with redactions that we considered necessary to comply with the data protection law".

"The ODPA ruled that we had over-redacted the report, so a further version was supplied to the family with fewer redactions."


From BBC




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