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November 25, 2011

Commission Finds 'Systematic' Failure in Elderly People's Care (UK)

Commission finds ‘systematic’ failure in elderly people’s care
23 November 2011 

Elderly people who receive home care are seeing their human rights breached by care workers, a new report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found.
There is evidence of “systematic failure” in the provision of care and shocking cases of treatment which breached human rights, including the theft of money, “unfounded” health and safety concerns and a chronic disregard for older people’s privacy and dignity, the report has claimed.
Examples include a woman left stuck on the toilet in her bathroom because the care worker was too busy completing a checklist of tasks to help her, elderly people with dementia going hungry because they could not find meals “hidden” by their carer in the fridge, and a starving lady who had to beg for her own food money to be spent.
It questions commissioning practices that are too dependent on a rigid checklist of tasks rather than asking what the client actually needs, and says some old people are reluctant to complain because they fear repercussions.
Only half of the 1,250 older people, friends and family members surveyed expressed satisfaction with home care provision, which is set to be cut back in many regions because of budget constraints.
One in three local authorities have already cut back on home care spending and another one in five plan to do so over the next year.
It demands the government close the human rights loopholes to ensure elderly people are protected from mistreatment.
The Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Baroness Sally Greengross, said: “The emphasis is on saving pennies rather than providing a service which will meet the very real needs of our grandparents, our parents, and eventually all of us.
“Most of us will want to carry on living in our own homes in later life, even if we need help to do so. When implemented, the recommendations from this inquiry will provide secure foundations for a home care system that will let us do so safely, with dignity and independence.” 
Labour leapt on the findings of the report, saying the Government was “out of touch”.
The Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, Liz Kendall, said: “This important report shines a light on the too often invisible experiences of older people receiving care at home.
“It reveals a service stretched to the limit and older people denied the dignity and respect they deserve.
“Despite all the evidence of the growing crisis in care, the Government is cutting funding for older people’s social care by £1.3bn in real terms this Parliament.
“They are clearly out of touch with what’s really happening on the ground.”
The General Secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, Dot Gibson, called for urgent reform to improve the pay, training and qualifications of care staff.
“Older people need greater legal protection from abuse and neglect otherwise the horror stories in this latest report will simply continue,” she said.
Charities agreed with another recommendation of the report, that local authorities and the government needed to more effectively monitor home care practice.
“There needs to be greater public scrutiny over a service delivered behind closed doors to some of the most vulnerable older people in our society,” said Age UK director Michelle Mitchell.

SOURCE:      The Yorkshire Post

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