23/11/2011

Quality Of Elderly Care Breaching Human Rights

An inquiry into the treatment of the elderly by the 'home care' system has found the quality of care was in breach of human rights.

The investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) revealed "disturbing evidence" that the poor treatment of many older people was breaching human rights and no one was listening to about the support they wanted.

The final report of the commission’s inquiry, "Close to home: older people and human rights in home care", said hundreds of thousands of older people lacked protection under the Human Rights Act and called for the legal loophole to be closed.

Among it's most chief concerns, the commission questioned current practices that focus on a "rigid list of tasks", rather than what older people actually want, and that give more weight to cost than to an acceptable quality of care.

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.

Ms Greengross called from changes to the law so that, at a minimum, all people getting publically funded home care were protected by the Human Rights Act.

"Currently this is not the case," she said. Ms Greengross added: "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."

According to the inquiry's findings, around half of the older people, friends and family members who gave evidence expressed satisfaction with their home care. They most valued having a small number of familiar and reliable staff who took the time to talk to them and complied with their requests to do specific tasks.

Home care workers said their job satisfaction came from improving the quality of older people’s lives.

However, the inquiry also revealed many examples of older people’s human rights being breached, including physical or financial abuse, disregarding their privacy and dignity, failing to support them with eating or drinking, treating them as if they were invisible, and paying little attention to what they want.

Some were surprised that they had any choice at all as they thought they had little say in how their care was arranged.

(DW)

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