Elderly advised to get used to neglect

Elderly advised to get used to neglect

Monday 20 June 2011
by Will Stone, Health & Social Affairs Reporter
Elderly people cared for in their homes were told today to prepare for ever-worsening neglect because of brutal government cuts.

Charity Age UK spoke out after the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that basic human rights are being overlooked even before the axe falls.

The commission is conducting a major inquiry into home care in England.

It is set to publish its findings in November.

However it has already identified a number of major problems such as high staff turnover.

One woman said she had 32 different carers over a two-week period.

The commission warned that some people are being left in their bed for 17 hours between home visits, and are not being washed regularly or given help eating food and drink.

There was a fear of complaining because many did not know how or believed there would be repercussions, it said.

Its inquiry is currently exploring what protection and support is in place for whistleblowers.

But Age UK charity director Michelle Mitchell said today that the “biggest threat” to the human rights of older people receiving care at home was from budget cuts.

Ms Mitchell said it was unclear whether tightening eligibility criteria to care would allow local authorities to continue to meet their human rights obligations.

She said: “Let’s not mince words about what the findings show – leaving someone in soiled beds or clothing for a long time or failing to ensure that an older person is able to eat or drink is serious neglect and should be treated as such.

“But more than that, providing personal care for older people should not be about completing tasks in whatever is the quickest or cheapest way.

“We need to ensure that the funding, training and systems are in place to ensure that every single older person is allowed to live safely and with dignity.”

National Pensioners Convention general secretary Dot Gibson said the commission’s findings proved that home care was getting worse.

She called for more government funding to ensure that the it remains a service and not a business where private profit comes first.

Commissioner Baroness Sally Greengross said that home care has never had enough resources allocated to it.

“The numbers of people requiring it are going up all the time, so we have to put in more resources and we have to adjust our resource allocation accordingly,” she said.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: “There can be no place for poor-quality care in care services, either in the home care system or in residential homes.”