When West Sussex Dignity Ambassador and Campaigner Amanda Waring, watched the shocking undercover Care Home Panorama programme on the evening of Monday the 23rd of April, it stirred painful memories of her own mothers ill treatment. But it also helped her to remember just why it is she has since devoted her life to working hard to make a difference, with her films, trainings and tireless Elder Care Campaigning.
"We really need to change this practices for good. Its shocking and awful and must stop now." Cried Amanda. "Care homes need to recruit staff with emotional intelligence firstly and ensure that they offer the right inductions, followed by regular trainings, especially when it comes to matters of compassion and dignity."
Amanda's mother, the acclaimed actress, Dame Dorothy Tutin, was diagnosed with Leukaemia and cared for until her death, by local care providers. Amanda unfortunately witnessed the ill treatment of her mother, famously reporting the experience as watching her being treated "as though she were a caged animal'" when she first went into care.
This awful and heart wrenching experience drove Amanda to not only move and campaign for her mother to ensure her end of life care was full of the compassion, respect and dignity that she deserved but compelled her to want to help others too. It was with this sheer emotive determination that she went on to produce what is now renowned worldwide as the 'best training film for care providers' otherwise known as 'What Do You See' starring Virginia McKenna.
The creation of the award winning film has since paved the way for a series of further films produced by Amanda, with endorsements from The Royal College of Nursing and many other institutes and societies, for use with their staff trainings.
"I made my film (What Do You See) to be used as a tool for safeguarding, to help with inducting the right kind of staff and to awaken compassion. It's powerful material but its also motivational and this is what we must continue to encourage when it comes to moving things forward with these issues. We must challenge the attitudes and mindsets that many care staff adopt. It can be extremely damaging to those in their care, both emotionally and in the worst cases as we have seen within this Panorama documentary, physically."
Continuing with her campaigning trail, Amanda has joined forces with recognised societies and care providers that wish to promote safeguarding and prevent elder abuse through raising the profile of such issues. The National Adult Safeguarding Conference held in London on the 30th of March invited Amanda to be a guest keynote speaker with them. "There are many wonderful support groups out there, working tirelessly to challenge bad practices and educate many on just how and why there should be a better way" Says Amanda. "I would encourage caring staff, care home managers, concerned relatives and anyone considering a career in care to make contact with them to receive advice or support required. You are not alone."
Since the production of the highly successful films, Amanda has since gone on to write her first book, 'The Heart of Care' with Souvenir Press which encourages all carers to look into themselves and question their attitudes, prejudices and behaviour. The book cleverly combines anecdote, reminiscence, practical advice and role-model exercises that really work.
The book is due for publication in early June but has been made available through Kindle download now. Its reviews are great, with Gary Fitzgerald CEO of Action on Elder Abuse, the UK based charity that challenges the abuse of older people, being one of the first to keenly stamp his mark of approval. The wonderful testimonial will be used for the books hard copy production, alongside many other key figureheads who too endorsing its essential thought provoking content.
"I hope that together, through teachings and materials we can begin to turnaround these accounts of such shocking behaviour and truly awaken our compassion" Said Amanda. "Its with the use of trusted resources available, such as my own films, training packs and forthcoming book that I hope we can really look at stimulating and awakening our compassion with caring".
With World Elder Abuse Day planned to take place on June the 15th, it seems that its significance has been made even more prominent with the exposure the shocking BBC Panorama documentary uncovered. "To lend support and to get involved with your colleagues or as an individual visit the Action on Elder Abuse website for further information on just what you can do. A lack of compassion, interaction and love can have such a devastating effect on someone, as we have seen, so together, let's really start to make a difference."
Amanda Waring is an actress, writer and director and has been a passionate campaigner for older people's rights for the past five years. She is available for comment and interview through contacting Mind's Eye Management.