Sometimes I forget what I witnessed and then other times, things remind me about it. You hear about horrible situations with patients/residents and you think to yourself how could anyone possibly do such things to these vulnerable people. Maybe I was just naive to think that anything like that could occur around me.
It’s taken time to sort of gain an understanding of what I saw and heard. It’s taken time to heal mentality. I realised that I needed to use this experience, to raise awareness and shine a light on how abuse in health care affects the witnesses too.
I remember a few years back, I stumbled across a documentary of a care home which was under investigation for abuse allegations, I watched the horrendous videos included in the documentary. I was so enraged, disgusted and ashamed that anyone could do such things to ANYONE. I began going on a rant about how if I ever saw such things, I would never stand there and allow it, I would do this and that. Gosh, I was so wrong and once again naive.
When I witnessed the abuse, I just stood there. I froze. I couldn’t say anything, I couldn’t actually believe I was seeing such revolting behaviour. Tears filled my eyes as I turned away, gripping the wardrobe in disbelief. How could someone do that? I felt physically sick. As the woman who did these horrible things walked out, I embraced the resident. Crying together on the edge of the bed. We were in shock.
You know, I was always taught if you see something wrong, go and speak to an adult. I was the adult in this situation and I wasn’t entirely sure what to do. Questions kept running through my head – What if I’m over exaggerating? What about her career, her family and her reputation? What about the residents feelings?
I just couldn’t cope with it, it was tough. I was sadly fortunate enough at the time to have a friend with me who also witnessed the abuse. We spoke about it together and how important it was to speak up and get something done before she hurts somebody else. If you ask anyone in my life at the moment they will tell you that I am very strong-headed and determined, once my friend and I decided to report this lady. I was determined to see it right through, ensuring that something was done and she couldn’t hurt anyone else.
It’s coming up to two years since this all went on and yet I still feel like it was yesterday. I have chosen a career in care which means that I have chosen to be a continued advocate for life, for everyone around me.
If there’s one thing I could say to you if you have ever seen anything which has made to doubt the standard of care. Speak up. Don’t let the person you are supposed to speak up for suffer in silence, as a witness don’t suffer in silence. You need to be heard! They need you to speak up for them as they sometimes can’t speak up themselves. I know it is scary to report someone but you are at times the only person who is able to speak for them. Don’t let them be forgotten. We are the voices, let’s be heard.