Home care for elderly condemned
The basic human rights of older people being given care at home are being overlooked, with some left in bed for 17 hours between visits, according to a new report.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed it had found many "worrying" cases such as old people not being washed regularly or not being given proper help with eating and drinking.
The commission said a major inquiry it is conducting into home care in England, to be published in November, had identified a number of major problems. Staff turnover in the sector is "huge", with one woman saying she had 32 different carers over a two-week period.
The commission also found that elderly people are being left in soiled beds and clothing for long periods, but it said there is a fear of complaining because many do not know how to or believe there might be repercussions.
Home care visits are just 15 minutes in some cases, which does not allow basic essential tasks to be done properly, leaving people having to choose between having a cooked meal or a wash, said the report.
Staff have to rush tasks like washing and dressing, leaving them feeling "frustrated and dissatisfied", while many older people have little or no control over the timing of visits. Some people are put to bed at 5pm and not helped to get up until 10am the following morning, a gap of 17 hours, the commission found.
"The full extent of the potential human rights breaches is likely to be masked by the fear of complaining and the low expectations about the quality of home care that many older people believe they are entitled to.
"One in five older people who responded to the call for evidence said that they would not complain because they didn't know how to, or for fear of repercussions.
"In addition, we are exploring what protection and support is in place for whistleblowers who want to expose poor or abusive practices," said the report, drawn from more than 500 submissions from individuals, organisations and home care staff.
Care services minister Paul Burstow said: "We welcome the inquiry, which will help drive up standards of care and expose bad practice. We look forward to seeing the results."