Lack of support for care home whistle blowers

Latest health news from the Suffolk Free Press,, @sfpsudbury on Twitter
Latest health news from the Suffolk Free Press,, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A support worker at a Sudbury care home was left abandoned after she tried to blow the whistle on her employer.

Rachel Theobald, from Sudbury, had worked at Barleycombe Residential Home for three years before being suspended.

Her suspension came just days after outside organisations carried out investigations into an incident she had reported.

Ms Theobald said she was within her rights to go to outside organisations but she felt abandoned when she was asked to leave days later.

“Where is all this support for whistle blowers?” she said. “They took my whole world away and made me feel like a criminal when I had done nothing wrong.”

The 42-year-old, who had been employed in the care industry for 10 years, claimed her suspension was punishment for going to the Care Quality Commission and Suffolk County Council’s safeguarding team.

Care workers are encouraged to call in either of these investigatory bodies if they feel it is necessary.

Investigations were carried out by both organisations but they found a lack of evidence into the incident reported by Ms Theobald.

She said this was because the evidence she had documented while she was a key worker at the home had gone missing.

Ms Theobald said she felt targeted for reporting her concerns and that her suspension destroyed her career and self-confidence.

Following her subsequent sacking, she took the care home to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal but the case was settled out of court just four weeks before the trial was due to begin.

A spokesman from Huntercombe, the group which owns Barleycombe Residential Home, denied Ms Theobald’s dismissal was because of whistle blowing behaviour.

He said that staff were encouraged to report any concerns or complaints they have and that a group-wide whistle blowing policy, including a confidential phone line, is in place to protect those who report incidents.