Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Poots must act on care home report

Health Minister Edwin Poots is right not to issue a blanket condemnation of the province's residential homes and those who work in them after a damning report from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission revealed a litany of failings in the care of elderly residents and a lack of respect for their dignity.

Care home workers are often poorly paid for what is an arduous task and frequently have to carry out their duties with a lack of resources. Many of those who work in residential homes do their jobs in a respectful and professional manner.

They, as well as the relatives of the elderly concerned, will feel betrayed by those staff, and home owners, who are the subject of criticism in the Commission's report. It is simply not acceptable that elderly people, among the most vulnerable in society, should be treated with a lack of respect or forced to undergo the indignity of poor toileting arrangements, long periods without food and lack of professional medical care.

In many instances these people are paying large sums of money from their hard-earned savings for their care and the least they should expect is adequate care. It seems undeniable that in some cases aged residents, especially those who are suffering from dementia or who have infrequent visitors, are being treated poorly because they are unlikely to raise the alarm. The Commission's report will strike fear into the hearts of many families in Northern Ireland who have relatives in residential homes.

Mr Poots says there will be no hiding place for those who abuse the elderly. He should now conduct an inquiry to see if the regulation of residential homes needs tightening and if inspections take place frequently enough to uncover failings. He needs to urgently address the findings of this report with actions, not just words. There is scandalous behaviour going on in some residential homes and it must be eradicated as soon as possible.

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