- Cancer victim, 76, has to struggle to kitchen to heat up a meal - because carers aren't allowed to operate the microwave for health and safety reasons
- Study uncovers financial abuse with money systematically being taken
- Pensioners physically abused and talked over
- Patient, in 90s, put to bed at 2.45pm by carer
Thousands of elderly people are being abused and neglected in their homes by the very staff meant to care for them.
In some cases the treatment is so appalling that frail and vulnerable pensioners have been left ‘wanting to die’, a report reveals today.
It comes after studies exposing the shocking standard of care for old people in hospitals and care homes across the country.
Abuse: Thousands of elderly people are not being provided with proper care in their homes, a damning report revealed today (picture posed by model)
Another was put to bed at 2.45pm – while some were even left to starve by refusing help with their meals.
The daughter of one neglected pensioner told the inquiry team: ‘These small acts of cruelty are being enacted, possibly unthinkingly, every day.’
Basic rights: Sally Greengross said elderly people needed to be protected from dehumanising treatment
But it warns the victims often do not complain for fear of repercussions.
The study also accused councils of being guilty of cruel age discrimination: spending less money on and providing fewer services for pensioners than they would for younger adults with similar care needs.
Appalling neglect of some of the 500,000 older people relying on council and private home helps leaves many of them stuck in their own homes, suffering from ‘pervasive social isolation and loneliness’. The report concluded: ‘Many of these incidents amount to abuses of human rights.
‘The cumulative impact on older people can be profoundly depressing and stressful: tears, frustration, expressions of a desire to die and feelings of being stripped of self-worth and dignity.’
The EHRC report found pensioners’ human rights were being breached in a number of ways:
- Elderly not being given adequate support to eat or drink, in particular those with dementia
- Home helps not carrying out vital tasks such as washing and dressing because of lack of time;
- Financial abuse, such as money being systematically stolen;
- Talking over older people (sometimes on mobile phones) or patronising them;
- Physical abuse, such as rough handling or unnecessary force.
Funding shortfall: Liz Kendall, Labour's spokesman for older people, blamed cuts for hitting care for the elderly
'This is not about burdensome red tape, it is about protecting people from the kind of dehumanising treatment we have uncovered.
'The emphasis is on saving pennies rather than providing a service which will meet the very real needs of our grandparents, our parents, and eventually all of us.
‘Most of us will want to carry on living in our own homes later in life, even if we need help to do so.
‘When implemented, the recommendations from this inquiry will provide secure foundations for a home care system that will let us do so safely, with dignity and independence.’
The report concluded home helps get away with appalling standards because the elderly are frightened to complain, believing it could have repercussions such as them getting an even worse standard of care. It was striking how reluctant older people are to make complaints,’ it said.
‘They do not want to get their care workers in trouble, feared being put into residential care and did not want to “make a fuss”.’
Councils are racked with age discrimination, the report said. Evidence provided to the inquiry found that people over the age of 65 get less money spent on their care than younger people with similar care needs, and get a more limited range of services.
Some town halls’ contact numbers even screen out older people needing home care without passing them on for a full assessment – something which is against the law.
The commission also found people who funded all or part of their care as a result of council means tests often received worse care, because only those who received all their care for free come under the remit of the Human Rights Act.
'The emphasis has been on saving pennies rather than providing a service.'
Sally Greengross, EHRC commissioner
The inquiry follows a damning report by the Care Quality Commission in May which raised serious concerns about the treatment of older patients in care homes and NHS hospitals. A wave of inspections was ordered to be carried out in 500 care homes for the elderly and 50 hospitals after inspectors found nurses and carers were failing to provide the most basic of necessities.
Similar failings were highlighted earlier this year by the Health Service Ombudsman who cited cases of patients left to become so thirsty they could not cry for help.
Last night, care services minister Paul Burstow said: ‘This Government won’t tolerate poor care. I am determined to root out ageism and bad practice to drive up quality and dignity in care.’
Labour spokesman for older people, Liz Kendall, said Government cuts were pushing the social care system ‘to breaking point’.
The damning dossierToday’s report has uncovered dozens of examples of appalling care provided by home helps. Here is a selection of the most harrowing:
Health and Safety left OAP to starveAn able-bodied, healthy 32-year-old female care worker stood and watched a 76-year-old woman with advanced cancer struggle from the lounge to the kitchen to microwave a meal, as the home help said she could not to do it ‘because of health and safety’ – although apparently this did not preclude the worker from dishing up the microwaved meal on to a plate.
The pensioner’s daughter said: ‘It is hard to think of a reason or excuse big enough adequately to cover such a fundamental lack of care from one adult to another.’
78-year-old pushed back into her chairOne 78-year-old woman described her treatment at the hands of carers: ‘Most of the girls were nasty; they were rough. Rather than say “sit in the chair”, they’ d push me back into the chair, and I didn’t like that. I couldn’t do anything about it. I can’t even walk – they know you’re vulnerable.’
Grim: Report said that pensioners don't complain about shoddy care because they fear the repercussions