Prevention of Theft in Social Care Services

The scepter or should I say scandal of theft in social care services has raised its ugly head once again.

Elderly worried woman

Last month a leading Sunday newspaper using the Freedom of Information police requests found that there have been at least 7,238 thefts from care homes for the elderly and other residential homes in England in a three-and-a-half-year period since 2012. These are damaging statistics for the care industry and the vast majority of providers and staff who are honest and caring will be appalled by these figures.

It could be argued that a major reason for the increase in the rate of theft is that people being admitted to care homes are now more vulnerable to financial abuse because of dementia and higher levels of dependency. Perpetrators of theft can find a confused person as easy prey because of the difficulty recalling an incident. The difficulties in recruitment and the availability of funding to appoint sufficient numbers of staff may also be contributing factors for the increase in the number of incidents.  

What Is theft
Theft: An intentional taking of a resident’s possession by another for personal use or sale. Loss or theft can occur in five different ways: Staff to resident; family to resident; visitor to resident; resident to resident; and resident to self.

Prevention Strategy
If the rates of theft are to be reduced there needs to be put in place a prevention strategy. The aim of the strategy is to secure the property of service users by providing the safest possible living and working environment for staff and service users. The following are the components of the strategy which should be considered and implemented by the manager:
•    Culture
•    Recruitment
•    Security
•    Policy
•    Records
•    Auditing
•    Staff Training

The components of this strategy are policies and procedures that form part of our Cared 4 Quality Management system. The adoption of the strategy I believe would not only increase awareness of the importance of safeguarding service users finances and possessions, (which can have serious consequences for their psychological and emotional wellbeing) but also reduce the risk of theft in care services.

Thank you for reading.

Albert Cook Fellow of the Charted Quality Institute
Managing Director
Bettal Quality Consultancy