Home care report reveals abuse and neglect
Elderly people are being abused, mistreated and not supported to eat or drink by council-funded care designed to help them remain in their own homes, a report has found.
An inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into the home care system in England reveals the poor treatment of many older people is breaching their human rights.
Older people, friends and family members who gave evidence to the inquiry revealed examples of physical or financial abuse, disregarding privacy and dignity, and failing to support them with eating or drinking.
Some were surprised that they had any choice at all as they thought they had little say in how their care was arranged, and ways for older people to complain about their home care are either insufficient or not working effectively, it found.
According to EHRC figures, one in three local authorities have already cut back on home care spending and a further one in five planned to do so within the next year. Very few local authority contracts for home care specify that the provider must comply with the Human Rights Act, the inquiry found.
The final report of the commission’s inquiry, Close to home: older people and human rights in home care, called for a legal loophole for people receiving care from the private and voluntary organisations to be closed. The law was revised for state-funded care in 2004.
Sally Greengross, commissioner for the EHRC, said: ‘It is essential that care services respect people’s basic human rights. This is not about burdensome red tape, it is about protecting people from the kind of dehumanising treatment we have uncovered. 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.’
John Merry, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘These results are symptomatic of a social care system that is underfunded and in need of urgent reform.
‘Councils are facing long-term triple pressures of insufficient funding, growing demand and escalating costs, which have been compounded by recent government funding cuts. Despite their best efforts, they are having to make tough decisions about the care services they can provide.’
The CQC announced yesterday that home care services are to be subject to inspection, following the EHRC report. Around 250 companies will be studied before the health watchdog publishes its verdict on the state of home care nationally.