Home care 'disgraceful' says Which?
Published on 16 March 2012 12:30 PM
Older people being cared for in their own homes are being left in soiled beds, with food out of reach and unable to get to the bathroom.
That is according to consumer group Which?, whose undercover researchers found older people are suffering 'disgraceful' home care.
One woman was left without a walking frame, rendering her unable to get to the bathroom, while another was left alone in the dark for hours, unable to find food or drink.
And home carers neglected to give one man vital diabetes medication, the researchers found.
The findings came to light after Which? asked 30 people or their carers to detail their experiences of home care, by keeping a diary over the course of one week in January.
The group declined to reveal names of the agencies, in a bid to protect those who took part in the study.
The research has shone a light on the issue of under-funding in the social care system.
UK Homecare Association spokesman Colin Angel said: 'Which? has identified that many people were happy with the care they receive at home. However, it is never acceptable that some people should experience rushed or inadequate care.
'However, the Which? report also highlights the disturbing consequences of the commissioning of homecare by local councils. To meet the current stringent public sector spending cuts councils are making significant attempts to reduce the price they pay for care.
'Homecare agencies repeatedly tell us that councils also allow less time for care to increasingly frail and elderly people. This raises serious questions about the ability of people to receive dignified, effective care, a situation which must be addressed nationally.'
But David Rogers, chairman of the Local Government Association's wellbeing board, pointed out: 'Local authorities are doing all they can to find solutions that don't impact on the services they can deliver to elderly and vulnerable residents and despite a 28% funding cut from Government, spending on adult services this year is expected to fall by just 2.5%, the lowest for any service area.'
Which? found many family members had to make a barrage of phone calls and engage in a 'constant battle' with agencies to see the care of their relatives improved. In 'many cases' the diarists reported that a good service was provided only after complaining.
Age UK charity director general Michelle Mitchell said: 'While many care workers work hard to provide compassionate care, the under-funding of the social care system is resulting in a serious reduction of domiciliary care, which can put both the health and dignity of older people at risk.
'Good home care must begin and end with the needs of individuals rather than focusing on a tick box of tasks to be completed within a set time.
'Pressures to beat the clock can easily lead to neglectful care that fails to treat those receiving care as dignified human beings and with wider social and emotional needs.
'The Government must address root and branch reform of social care in the forthcoming white paper, and adopt the Dilnot Commission recommendations, so that everybody receives high quality social care, which is sustainable now and for future generations to come.'
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: 'The Government can no longer claim to be shocked as report after report highlights the pitiful state of care for older people.
'If they are serious about ensuring vulnerable people are treated with dignity, then we must see real action because every day they delay is another day older people risk being neglected.'
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: 'This report tells us nothing new about the worst examples of home care and that is why we are already acting to stamp it out.'
Copyright Press Association 2012