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Minister fears over poor home care

Published on 14 June 2013 10:30 AM

Some home care services constitute an 'assault' on the dignity of vulnerable older people and the provision could be the next big health scandal, according to the minister responsible for care.


Norman Lamb is calling for an overhaul of the whole sector after the BBC reported a series of failings involving the care of 83-year-old Muriel Price in her own home.

It received footage showing carers working for the Mosaic Care Group arriving late or not at all at least 12 times in the course of just under a month. The BBC claims the video shows her becoming distressed at the late arrival of carers, who are also seen to check the temperature of her food with their fingers and change her incontinence pads in full view of the street.

Mrs Price, who lives in Blackpool, Lancashire, has special dietary needs as she has diabetes, but one carer is filmed admitting that she is 'rubbish' at cooking and 'can't fry an egg'. She is heard saying she wondered why Mosaic Care Group sent her to Mrs Price at dinner time.

Minister's shock on seeing the footage

The way Mosaic Care Group cares for old people is 'wrong', Mrs Price told the BBC. She says sometimes they don't bother to bring her tea. The company says it is taking the allegations 'very seriously' but said the problems have not been raised by her family.

Mr Lamb expressed his shock at the footage and revealed his concern about the services being provided in the home care sector. He said anything is possible behind closed doors and he wants to uncover the truth about what is going on.

He said Mrs Price was being neglected and her care was unacceptable and depressing when it is vital to give old people needing care a good life and look after their well being. 'That's no quality of life', he said.

The Care Quality Commission said recently that a quarter of all home care leaves older people feeling 'vulnerable and under-valued' as it fails five of the most basic standards. Mr Lamb warns that the next big health scandal will involve people being cared for in their own homes unless action isn't taken now to improve provision.

830,000 older people who need care don't receive it

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK, commented: 'Time and again we hear heartbreaking and shocking stories of older people who are being let down by the care system. Older people who struggle daily with chronic ill health, frailty and disability should have the peace of mind that they will be well cared for in times of need.'

'Care for older people must be more than just a tick list of tasks to be completed as quickly as possible. Often a care worker is the only regular contact for isolated older people and rushed visits which allow no time for even brief pleasantries are dehumanising. Many older people also do not receive any care, despite needing help with everyday tasks such as washing, dressing, preparing food and cleaning their teeth. Age UK currently estimates that there are 830,000 older people who need care and are receiving no formal support - these are figures that are not acceptable.

'We welcome Care Minister's Norman Lab's commitment to improve home care systems but to stop the system sinking into even further into crisis we need a firm commitment from the Government that more money will be put into the system and the new national eligibility criteria will be set at "moderate". Many people will feel badly let down by the government if only those assessed as having "substantial" needs can get help with future care costs, including being able to benefit from the lifetime cap on care costs.

'Good standards of care make both moral and economic sense. Well-funded social care can allow people to remain part of their community, ease the often unbearable pressure on family carers and avoid preventable hospital admissions thus reducing the costs and additional pressure on the NHS.'

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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