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 152.

    Something for me to look forward to. Plan A sell house go on holidays, smoke and drink. When all gone live off the state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    The elderly are the most abused and put upon section of our society. It is no coincidence that they are also the most helpless, isolated and vulnerable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Thanks 84. Berba9.

    You try explaning to them that their wealth is based on them hogging all the housing thus driving prices up and they don't like it.

    Listen to the pointless, union protected jobs they did (only one worker in the family) and then calculate whether they could afford the house they 'worked hard all their life for'. 9/10 they'd rent today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Reality of family responsibility.
    I have given up my job and income to care for my elderly infirm Mother and thus live in abject poverty. Not to mention my loss of any social life and a strugggling relationship.
    My Mother has an expensive care package however, as her son! I do not feel it appropriate that I wash my Mothers breasts, put cream on her "personal area", or clean faecal output.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    The care culture (or rather the lack of it is endemic in this country). In the family unit a child is looked after by their parents and an elderly parent is looked after by their children. It is not the state's responsibility!

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    You were handed the opportunity to buy property on a plate by Thatcher's government (something we will NEVER have). If it helps you sleep more comfortably, however, we'll go with your version of events.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    All of these services be they home care or the NHS are done at a cost

    The cost is dictated by what the taxpayer can afford given the prevailing costs

    It's all right everybody saying the level of provision is a disgrace but these people tend not to be the ones the tax burden falls on

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    I'm a Homecare worker.It's never mentioned how hard we work,how often we go above and beyond what we're required to do,our low wages,crazy working hours,and that people cannot be fitted into time slots.We do over run,we do get stuck in traffic,we can get half hour calls that end up taking 2 hours instead. Yes there are bad carers out there,but why tar us all with the same brush?

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Unions stop the government from taking many facilities in house.

    Pay raises for all (even when undue)

    With external companies you can negotiate the fee & remove bad employees. This is more difficult when you have a 100,000 people behind you going to strike because your sacked for doing a bad job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    The problem is not so much with the carer but the time they are allowed. During the recent snow I have seen them walk up to my neighbour but when I ask them they are not paid for the extra time it takes as it is all about profit for the company.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Perhaps the money we throw at every foreign scrounger that lands on these shores was diverted into the care of OUR ELDERLY population there might be enough money in the system to provide a quality service. There is an agenda not to spend large amount of money on the old who will in all probability be dead sooner rather than later. It really is time that charity did begin at home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Most of the care is outside the care for the Elderly and Disabled has gone out to the Private Sector. One reason was that the amount of investment in new buildings was too great, there were restricted from borrowing by Central Govt. The unions also shot the workers in the foot by extending benefits which made running home uneconomic. Standards brought in haven't been applied very well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    I'm a home carer and the company I work for are terrible. Calls are often missed because the people in the office clearly don't know what they're doing. The carers I work for are brilliant, I can't fault them. It's the management that needs to change. I've complained to both social services and the CQC but nothing is ever done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    I appreciate the concerns for people who have elderly relatives but there needs to be perspective. Not all home care is failing in fact 3/4 of it is working if you read this report. That is not to say that there shouldn't be more done to regulate and review visits, however my experience has been nothing but exemplery of an outsourced care provider for my Dad though local Adult Social Services.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    The problem with provision of care services in the home is fact that it has been out-sourced. Private companies make money. They charge clients £16 an hour but carers are paid the minimum wage of just £60.

    The system needs to be restored to provision by social services as it was when I was a County Councillor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    I worked for a small Scottish joint NHS and local government social care team. We had well trained carers who cared plus a pharmacist, OT and physio to help folk regain independence quickly after hospital discharge. Big long term savings for everyone.

    I would have entrusted my own mother in the care of any of these men and women. Of course, the service itself was too expensive and shut down...

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Noticed some are defending Mrs Thatcher, well lets think on her record
    Got rid of Shipyards.
    Got rid of heavy engineering
    Got rid of the Pits
    Assisted the Yuppies to make millions which we are now paying back
    Assisted in getting rid of the car industry
    etc etc

    Yes she has a record to be proud of, oh they were Tories weren't they. Both party's to blame lets stop sling mud and find a cure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    It's not just England, I live in Belfast and my 84 year old grandmother has had her home-help time reduced. She used to get 2 1-hour visits a week and now she only gets 15 minutes. If it wasn't for family members she wouldn't get anything she needs done around the house. I think this is a disgrace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    #82 Spot on logica_sine_vanitate. And so often carers are given a succession of calls, 15 mins duration each, with no travel time allowed between them. Of course calls will then be hurried or late. We must remember that the clients are people with feelings like the rest of us, and that often the carer is the only person they see all day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Don't understand how people get free care subsidised by the tax payer and keep assets they own (ie.homes) just to hand over to their greedy kids who are two lazy to even look after their own parents. Shameful situation. These people leave elderly relatives in the hands of poorly paid carers and complain at anything. Any excuse not to look after relatives themselves. Want everything for nothing


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