Elderly 'suffer from poor home care'


Pensioner: "Some carers are poorly trained and do not have enough time"

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A quarter of home-care services provided to the elderly in England are failing to meet quality and safety standards, inspectors say.

More than 700,000 people above the age of 65 rely on home help for activities such as washing, dressing and eating.

But the Care Quality Commission found evidence of rushed appointments and botched assessments during its review of 250 services.

Campaigners said it was a sign of how much pressure the system was under.

On Monday, ministers announced plans for a £75,000 cap on the amount the elderly will have to pay for social care in England - only the poorest get it free.

The proposal aims to stop the elderly having to sell their homes to pay for care.

But the move will do nothing to get extra money into the system, something the sector believes is vital if the quality of services is going to be improved.

'Significant impact'

Home help services are considered essential in keeping people out of more expensive care homes.

Alan Rosenbach, Care Quality Commission: "Responsibility with provider"

The numbers getting help is pretty evenly split between self-funders and those who get council-funded care.

This review looked at the support being provided to both - and found too many were struggling to maintain standards.

A total of 26% failed on at least one standard.

One of the most common issues identified related to late, rushed or missed visits.

The regulator also highlighted assessments that had missed vital information, such as a diagnosis of diabetes, and care records that were incomplete, meaning problems such as pressure ulcers could be missed by carers.

Concerns were also raised about the way services were monitored and complaints handled.

The regulator said home care providers, many of which are private companies, needed to work closely with local authorities to remedy the problems.

It warned the problems identified could have a "significant impact" on the elderly, many of whom did not complain because of a fear of reprisals or loyalty to their carer.

The findings come after reports by both the consumer group Which? and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have criticised home care in the past 18 months.

Case study

David - who is in his late 70s and suffers with a severe neurological condition - has experienced both sides of the system in England.

He says some carers have been exceptional and really helped him.

But he adds others have been poorly trained and in too much of a hurry - and that has been detrimental.

"They don't understand my medical condition," he says.

"Because they want to get the job done fast this is where the system falls apart."

Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK, said: "There must be a zero-tolerance attitude to poor, neglectful care."

The UK Homecare Association said it was pleasing the majority were meeting all the standards but said the sector was "not complacent" about the minority that were not.

A spokesman said some of the problems related to councils squeezing the amount of time they were willing to fund for visits.

Councillor David Rogers, of the Local Government Association, said were trying to "stamp out poor performance".

But he added: "As this report highlights, even the very best efforts of councils are not enough to avert the real and growing crisis we are facing in ensuring older people receive the care they deserve. The stark reality is that the current care system is underfunded and not fit for purpose."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    I don't know what how anyone would expect anything different. There is far too much emphasis on profit and cost within the care sector. For a start, we need people working there who actually care about people and not just see it as a source of income. Secondly we need to pay the right money to get the right people. Thirdly, management and supervision need to be more proactive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I want numbers on scroungers, instead of horror stories pushed up the papers front pages. How much is going on 'scroungers', how much on trident, how much on tax breaks for big companies as Osbourne races for the bottom... Would public care be a better idea, funded from income tax? Or a land tax, to stop the tax avoiders?

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    I wish the government and all mainstream parties could just accept they can't shoot us when we're not able to contribute no matter how much they want to or the economic sense it makes.

    Maybe then we could find some middle ground.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Q. If I get to the point where I'm unable to look after myself I think I'd then like to end my life, do I get any help with that?
    A. No.

    Never mind. Am now researching the options for a neat ending. Just as well we oldies have always been pretty self reliant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    My mother inlaw age 90 has just been sent a letter discharging you from the community dementia service from today. We had the letter from the mental health practitioner last week. What are we going to do about her. She lives in a flat warden controlled. She can cook and wash herself. But she is not going to get better only worse. Help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    I lived in Italy for a few years and this would never happen there familys care for their own much more than they do here. My grandmother moved in with my uncles family as soon as she could not cope its taken for granted that when the old are in need of help the family is there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    We have an aging population, local councils with no money, and record levels of youth unemployment! That's a crazy combination, surely?

    Couldn't we set up a scheme whereby young unemployed could volunteer (not be required) to do community work for the elderly (organised by local authorities or the age concern charities) and have that count when assessing their job seekers benefit entitlement?

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    "...Please don't seek to take the moral high ground without first appreciating and acknowledging the big picture - it's disingenuous and unhelpful."
    Conscience been pricked eh? Of course there are some elderly folks who need professional care and most of those are in care homes. There are many more that don't and would benefit from regular visits from their offspring

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Absolutely spot on. Our generation is essentially bound to rent servitude to the very people whose care we are concerned about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I wonder what Dave C. will have to say about this story ?

    He may do a 'Maggie' and sell the lot.

    Let's hope he ends up in one of these homes

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    What is needed are better pay and conditions for carers. Many of us are not paid for travel time between jobs or for petrol. We are often under time pressure (due to inadequate travel time), and are subject to a strict logging system. We have to face abuse ourselves, and our concerns for our clients are not always listened to or actioned. Yet we are often seen as the problem. It's a scandal!

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    We cannot provide decent homecare for nothing. We cannot provide decent nursing homes for nothing. It has to be paid for. There's plenty of work here for those without work, but we pay minimum wage at best (which is why so much of this is done by immigrant ladies working here for 3-4 years to build up a stake to take home).
    It needs taxation to pay for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.


    How can anyone be surprised?

    We have a Government that slashes care budgets to give millionaires a tax cut

    No doubt the Government will be blaming the overworked, underpaid, staff at the pointed end for the problems, problems caused by the governments political dogma.

    Pass the blue pills

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I was told to get on my bike and be flexible part of the workforce, so now my parents are at the wrong end of the country for me to work and look after them. Happened to many, i think

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    The users are being neglected, the workers are being screwed, the owners are being ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    It's all about how much can be squeezed out of the old by these parasitic care homes

    How can it be justified to charge in some cases up to a £1000 a week, when all the elderly get is a bed and chair to occupy for the rest of their days. There is not even decent meals in these slaughter houses as most of the residents are fed pap. They are look at (not after) by uneducated people on minimum wage

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    I wonder if the inspectors are as poorly paid as the carers. This country has its priorities wrong when we have this situation and the front page headlined in the media are about a photo being taken of Kate in a bikini.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Believe me, there are many elderly who don't have a terminal illness but are not safe in their own home (the topic here) and need constant care for either mental and/or physical conditions. Please don't seek to take the moral high ground without first appreciating and acknowledging the big picture - it's disingenuous and unhelpful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I really worry for my parents' future. If my siblings & I lived in the same area we could probably share the care between us & continue working. Instead we all live hundreds of miles apart & my parents refuse to be a burden on a single one of us. If care allowance were more reasonable they might agree to stay with us but instead we worry about the day they have to be subjected to the "care" system

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Don't be afraid to contact the CQC, they have not the resource to monitor agencies that closely but on contentious issues they are approachable and will give good advice even if you don't name the agency but you can use this to challenge the agency who will back down if they know you are prepared to go take the necessary action. If you are dissatisfied pick an agency from the CQC website list


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