Inquiry Reveals Failure To Protect The Elderly

Older people’s basic human rights are being overlooked in the provision of care at home, according to emerging findings released today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The commission is conducting a major inquiry into home care, which is investigating how well the home based care and support system in England is protecting the rights of people over 65.

In gathering evidence, many worrying cases were uncovered, including: People being left in bed for 17 hours or more between care visits; Failure to wash people regularly and provide people with the support they need to eat and drink. It was also noted that people were being left in soiled beds and clothes for long periods, and a high staff turnover meant some people have a huge number of different carers performing intimate tasks such as washing and dressing. In one case a woman recorded having 32 different carers over a two week period.

Major problems in the home care system that have been brought to the commission’s attention through this inquiry include: The very brief time allocated to homecare visits, just 15 minutes in a number of cases, does not allow even basic essential tasks to be done properly. As a result people sometimes have to choose between having a cooked meal or a wash. The short visits also mean that staff have to rush tasks like washing and dressing. Older people and care staff alike have expressed dissatisfaction and frustration about this issue.

Many older people have little or no control over what time the homecare visit happens. As a result, the commission have heard of people being put to bed at 5pm and not helped to get up until 10am, a period of 17 hours.

Neglect has also been reported, where people have been left in filthy nightwear and bedding after a homecare visit or without a wash or hair wash for several weeks.

Other issues hightlighted included lack of staff awareness and training, high staff turnover, as well as lack of complaints and low expectations.

The full report will be published in November 2011.


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