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Care homes will have to reveal patient eviction numbers

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Care homes will be forced to reveal how many patients they have evicted against their wishes, the care regulator says.

They will also have to share how many relatives of elderly patients have been banned from visiting their loved ones, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said.

Family members should not have to "live in fear" of raising concerns, it added.

It comes after BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme learned hundreds of homes are banning visits from relatives who have made complaints.

The programme revealed a Somerset care home had prevented a man from visiting his 93-year-old father after making a complaint, and the family of a woman in a home in Essex says she was evicted after they raised concerns.

Families 'frightened'

Responding to the programme's revelations, the CQC said care homes would now be obliged to tell inspectors how many people had had visiting rights restricted and how many residents had been removed against their will.

The CQC's chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, told the BBC's You & Yours: "Care homes are people's homes. They, their family and friends should not live in fear of being penalised for raising concerns.

"Good providers know this and we see plenty of excellent practice where managers and staff respond to complaints positively and make sure it is as easy as possible for people to visit their loved ones in a welcoming, friendly environment."

She added that "too many people are frightened to raise concerns".

The CQC had also taken the step of publishing information "to clarify people's rights and our expectations of providers", she added.

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Media captionPaul Doolan was told to "cease visits" by his father's carers

Paul Doolan was banned from visiting the care home in Somerset where his 93-year-old father Terry lived because he complained about the quality of care.

The ban meant Paul could only meet his father - who had cancer, was registered blind, needed hearing aids and used a wheelchair - at a restaurant, with a chaperone.

He said the situation had been "deeply upsetting".

"I had limited time when I'd go in to see Dad," Paul said. "And because his hearing aids weren't working properly, because his batteries had run out or they weren't clean, it took me a quarter of an hour to sort this out [and] to start speaking properly to him.

"For the rest of the week, when I wasn't there, he probably sat in total silence."

A spokeswoman for the care home said in a statement: "I can confirm that during the time in question, the home followed all regulations set by CQC [Care Quality Commission] and all guidelines set by our local authority."

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Former care worker Eileen Chubb campaigns for better regulation of the care industry.

She said she heard from 50 to 60 families a year in a similar position to the Doolans, and that the number was increasing.

"Some people raise a concern, and when it's not dealt with and they raise a concern a second time, they're seen as serial complainers," she said.

"That seems to be a tactic that's used against families who are raising genuine concerns.

"The balance of power is totally weighed against the relative raising concerns, and whatever the care home says is taken at face value by all of the authorities."

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Media captionAngela Eastman and her brother Mervyn have had to find a new home for their mother

Angela and Mervyn Eastman said their mother, Careena, 86, had been evicted from an Essex nursing home because they lodged a single formal complaint about poor care.

Careena had Alzheimer's disease and was moved into the home in 2013.

The Eastmans say the home failed to adequately treat a gash on Careena's leg.

And they finally made their formal complaint in September 2014, after residents who displayed aggressive behaviour had been moved into the same area as their mother - with neither residents nor relatives being informed beforehand.

Two days later, the home responded that it had "thoroughly investigated" their complaint, and that it could not "deal with family needs" or "Careena's needs".

'Disproportionate' response

The letter said Careena had been given "notice to quit" the home, and must leave "within 28 days".

Mr Eastman said the nursing home's response was "an excuse" and "disproportionate".

He said: "Why do we raise a complaint and you find your mum is on four weeks' notice to leave, a very vulnerable mum who's been traumatised?"

A spokesman for the care home said it had a duty of care "to ensure that we are always able to meet individuals' needs, and where we cannot, we are compelled to make unenviable and difficult decisions to ensure that the individual is supported to relocate to a service where their needs can be best met".

This had been the case with Mrs Eastman, he added.

The spokesman also pointed out the home had been rated as good by the CQC in its two most recent inspections.

The Victoria Derbyshire programme is broadcast on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.

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