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Channel 4 exposes Britain's Pensioner Care Scandal

Published on 04 April 2016 03:30 PM

In 'Britain's Pensioner Care Scandal' airing on Monday 4 April at 8pm on Channel 4, undercover reporter Jackie Long examines the crisis in home care for older people, as part of an investigation by Dispatches and The Sunday Times.


New research reveals hundreds of thousands of missed visits and millions of late visits along with evidence of pensioners not being washed or dressed for days, waiting hours for dinner and mistakes being made with medication. Almost 300,000 older people in this country receive home care and this investigation's findings suggest many are facing serious difficulties with the quality of the care that they receive.

Hidden cameras installed in one 87-year-old, blind woman's home exposed serious problems with her home care. Meanwhile an undercover reporter, working as a home carer at Sevacare, also discovered an overstretched service, workers cutting short appointments and falsifying log books.

Three days after the introduction of the new National Living Wage, the film uncovers fresh concerns about home care workers not being paid the legal minimum. Once travel time was factored in the undercover reporter was paid just £3.89 an hour. Most councils in the UK contract out their home care to private companies, which are inspected and regulated in England by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). However their own figures show more than 3,000 branches have never been inspected.

Homecare 'increasing unviable' - UKHCA

The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) now warns that the market is increasingly unviable. Council funding has been cut by around £20billion in the last five years, which means that council spending on homecare for the over 65s has fallen by £436million. Dispatches looked at the accounts of eight major care providers and discovered that the CEOs earn, on average, more than £300,000 per year, three earning more than £500,000.

One of the country's leading home care providers has been forced to close its Haringey branch. Secret filming, shown in Dispatches tonight, reveals concerns about home care provided to older people in the borough and to others around the country.

National home care provider Sevacare, which looks after more than 8,500 people in their homes around the UK, was ordered to close down the service by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on Thursday.

Dispatches made Freedom of Information requests to local councils. The responses revealed:

  • There were than 500,000 missed home care visits in the past year
  • There were 6,500 medicine errors in the past two years
  • There were just under three million late visits in the past three years

'Older people are being let down by those paid to care for them'

Commenting on this documentary, Caroline Abrahams, Charity director at Age UK said: 'It is utterly heart breaking that another programme will be broadcast tonight showing vulnerable older people being systematically let down by those paid to care for them. We agree with the Chief Inspector of Social Care who has said that there can be no justification for such poor quality care.'

'When we see these things on the screen it is understandable that we feel incensed with the men and women directly responsible for leaving older people undressed and unwashed and who may even falsify log books to make it look as though they have been with them for longer than is in fact the case.

'However, we also need to think about all the decisions taken - and not taken - nationally by governments that have created the situation in which these things have come about. Over the years social care has been deprived of the resources required to meet the needs of our ageing population and, ultimately, what that leads to is someone's ageing Mum or Dad being offered only cheese and biscuits to eat all day.

'Well done to C4 Dispatches for bringing this scandal to light. We hope policymakers will take note and respond on the basis that they would not find this remotely acceptable for their own loved ones and they shouldn't allow it to happen to anyone else's either.'

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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