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 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 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 33.

    I work as a support worker for OAPs with learning disabilities for my local council. The truth is if you outsource care to companies who see profit rather than quality of care as a priority you will get massive failings. Alongside targets and suits invading the NHS we are now seeing the outfall from this. Well done Labour, Conservatives and Liberals short termism politics at its worst.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Public SERVICES should never have been put in the hands of private businesses whose first three priorities are profit, profit, profit. This includes not only care for the elderly but also transport, rental housing and health care provision.


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