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Equality and Human Rights Commission turns spotlight on elderly care
Date of article: 27-Jul-11
Home care services in the UK are coming under the intense spotlight of public interest this month as the Equality and Human Rights Commission reports that the neglect and disrespect shown to many elderly people in their own homes is tantamount to a human rights violation.
Though the full report is not due out until November, the initial conclusions are that there are “major problems” in the home care system that need to be urgently addressed.
The survey approached NHS local authorities, primary care trusts and private home care providers. Carers and the elderly in their care were also asked to contribute and the responses, disturbing as they are, were very revealing.
Some of the more horrific examples of poor elderly care highlighted in this report are: • Leaving elderly people unwashed for weeks at a time • Neglecting to help them out of bed for extended periods • Being undressed in public view • Leaving elderly people in filthy nightwear and bedding
Managing Director of ANA Nursing, Claude Suppiah, says: “There’s just no excuse for this kind of abuse of trust. When you’re entrusted with someone’s care you are responsible for their wellbeing, and anything other than your best efforts at all times is a travesty.”
“Serious neglect” has been highlighted by this report, says charity director of Age UK, Michelle Mitchell. She goes on to explain that “The biggest threat to the human rights of older people receiving care at home is from cuts to adult social care budgets, and it is very unclear whether tightening eligibility criteria to care will allow local authorities to continue to meet their human rights obligations.”
Carers themselves have become increasingly frustrated with the pressure of keeping up with their ever-growing workload. Some complain that their time is so stretched and their elderly care visits so brief that, unbelievably, they are forced to choose whether to feed or bathe a person. With no time for both they can only make a judgement as to which is the higher priority that visit.
It’s not surprising that staff turnover is so high, which in turn leads to an even more stressful situation for the elderly people being cared for, as they may have to explain their needs time and time again to new carers and suffer the indignity of being bathed and undressed by unfamiliar people.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow says: “There can be no place for poor quality care in care services, either in the home care system or in residential homes.”
ANA Nursing’s Claude Suppiah agrees “Our industry is based on trusting that we will care for those you care most about. If this trust is strained or broken it has wide-ranging ramifications. We need to do our utmost every day to assure people that the care they would wish for themselves and their loved ones is the goal of every conscientious home care provider out there.”
The full report will be available in November, but it would be a further failure in the home care system if response to these serious issues was not forthcoming well before this date.