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 132.

    This scandal is simply another example of the Parliamentary System in this country that is designed NOT to provide services for the people it is meant to represent.
    We need a totally new system of governance: one without M.P.s, quangos, private companies meddling, etc., etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    My neighbour was paying for home-care. I came home from work one evening to find that she had been left sitting in her chair all day and all the previous night. No one had called to see to her or feed her. Because of "cuts" and "staff shortages", no one had turned up. Worse still, no one from the care provider had even bothered to get in touch with her either. Absolutely disgusting!

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    115. keith8
    Nothing will change until we stop this aid culture millions of pounds are sent to other Countries to help care for their poor etc when our own elderly and poor suffer as a result.
    Take it from me taking money from starving children isnt the only way to resolve this funding issue.

    Its pretty sick and bizarre that anyone would correlate the two.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Everything in this country is run for profit margins only. The owners of care homes charge a lot of money for their services but pay a pittance to staff. The average elderly person no longer pays taxes so is abandoned by the Government to the private sector to pick over the bones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    How I agreed with SBaldrick - why on earth did the BBC remove his comment?

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.


  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    After working for Social Services, NHS & charities in various capacities. I became so disillusioned I finally went it alone. I am a self employed carer, with 3 regular clients, I offer consistent, good quality of care. I know the families & the people I care for well, undertand their needs & foibles & they know me. I charge a reasonable rate. I can tailor my hours to their needs, they come first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    I take a lunch break 3 times a week and help a lady with dementia, there are a team of helpers, 4 calls a day, 2 helpers each call, her family manage this and are in receipt of direct payments which funds it. Her care couldn't be better

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Not just poor home care; those over 65 are patronised, talked down to or ignored by "healthcare professionals" because they are seen as unprofitable or demanding.Carers ( and often they are nothing of the sort) merely adopt the same attitudes and tones as they hear from "doctors", nurses and other N"H""S" employees.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Why is everyone surprised. We all know that the making of money comes before anything else to the rich and well off. For years we have bemoaned this aspect now the ones that moaned are moaning more because they are not getting the benefit of taxpayers paid luxury life style. Well sorry I worked for the benefit of myself and my young family who are now responsible for themselves having grown up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    You will soon be asked to support Red Nose Day when a load of luvvies will morally blackmail you into giving your hard earn cash to charity. They will then take credit for your effort, having gained a lot of unpaid for personal advertising from BBC. The hypocrisy is that these overpaid people avoid paying tax, which is why we have to resort to charities to look after our elderly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Just think, if your friend Mr Blair hadn't opened the floodgates to our borders, how much money would be available to care for our elderly instead of £1m a day doing out the country in benefits for non resident children, full nhs access, housing etc etc etc Only Labour to blame on that one. Bet we wouldn't be having any cuts if we weren't supporting half the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    How can we believe anything the tories say especially after voting themselves huge rises they pour scorn onto the weakest in society. As 75% f our laws come via Brussels perhaps a 75% cut in our MPs who do nothing but meddle in our lives, the huge savings could go into the care budget and make a real difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    "Profit before people" seems to be the major complaint. But most of these old folk didn't just walk into a care home of their own accord, they are normally sent there by their family. If you don't like the private system, then why not take care of your own elderly relatives at home? Oh - because you have to earn a living? So you're quite happy to put your OWN profit before your OWN family then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Well if family members take responsibility for elders in the family, this should not have been a problem at all. The elders of the family shouldn't have been left at the mercy of strangers. Its a selfish society.
    I agree to privacy and freedom arguments but not at the cost of vital support to elders of the family. Families must take responsibility and be a little less selfish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Although everyone shakes their head and shouts 'shame' at the appalling treatment of elderly people, younger, healthier people 'who have paid tax all their lives' etc, (and can vote) change their tune pretty quickly if the system changes to their detriment. Time to decide if we want public services to do what we need them to do ie care for the needy, or do what we want them to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    These conclusions exactly match my parents' experiences of the care system. There are some wonderful carers who do a great job - and others who don't, for reasons which are as often due to the system as their own failings. What hangs over everything is the immense financial pressure on the system. I can't see there's any real solution without substantial extra funding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Nothing will change until we stop this aid culture millions of pounds are sent to other Countries to help care for their poor etc when our own elderly and poor suffer as a result.The current elderly are the very ones who put the Service together and contributed heavily and in return they get the least back.DISGUSTING !! Charity begins at home !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    This is all endemic and geared towards profit - Share holders have more say than the contract provider - look what has happened with the meat industry, supermarkets squeeze the profit of their suppliers constantly resulting in inferior products (Horsemeat) this is exactly the same in the care industry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Interesting that we outsource our child care and care of the elderly. Not sure what that says about our society, but it seems we see less of the joy and trauma of raising kids and of seeing the old over the styx. Does that mean we don't live a full life?


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