Neglect or act of omission

Neglect is when a person’s needs and requirements aren’t met . This can include not providing care in a way the person likes, ignoring their likes and dislikes and not ensuring they get access to a range of activities and stimulation.

Neglect often occurs when people aren’t given care/support with basic care needs such as having food they like at a time they want it, getting medication regularly and on time, having clean clothes, and supported with care and help they need in a timely manner. Neglect can be intentional, but it can also be unintentional, and harm can be caused by not following proper policies, procedures and support plans, by informal carers being overwhelmed, and by a lack of understanding of what dignity is, and what people need to live a good life.

Neglect is different to organisational abuse in that it might be just one person who isn’t having their needs met, perhaps due to a staff member who hasn’t read a support plan properly or been properly trained. Whereas organisational neglect is about a range of failings within an organisation which causes neglect and harm to a number of people.

Case Study

Marie is 54 and in a wheelchair. She has motor neurone disease, and she can only communicate via a visual communication board. When carers come to visit, Marie likes to be able to choose what she eats, what clothes she wears each day and what TV programmes she watches. A new carer starts working with Marie, and even though she has been trained by the organisation,on her first shift she does not read Marie’s support plan, so she does not realise that Marie cannot communicate verbally. Because she has not read the support plan does not know that Marie would like a choice of foods, and she just looks in her cupboards and providers her with cereal (Marie usually likes toast, cereal and orange juice for breakfast). She forgets to give Marie her medication because she hasn’t seen the medication administration sheet in the folder.

She leaves Marie in a soiled incontinence pad because she thinks Marie will be OK until the next carer, as she is running late. She doesn’t talk to Marie about what she is doing because she doesn’t realise Marie can communicate, so she does everything in silence.

As a result Marie is very angry and upset, she has to sit in a soiled pad for a number of hours, and her medication is late as a result of the carer not realising she needed to do it.