The Equality and Human Rights Commission and Care Quality Commission have again highlighted the poor standards of social care suffered by many older people – primarily caused by huge, and growing shortfalls in local authority care budgets.
“Of course, there is wonderful care out there, but as councils keep cutting care budgets, standards can only get worse: hardly a week goes by without another damning report into the treatment of the elderly and vulnerable in this country. But so far, nothing has actually been done to address the reality of the day-to-day indignities many older people endure,” said Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga.
“Today's report, from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, says that 250,000 older people - the equivalent of the population of a city the size of Derby or Southampton - are receiving poor, or very poor standards of home care including verbal and physical abuse, near-cursory 15-minute ‘task-ticking’ visits – there should be a statutory minimum way higher than that - and little or no help in eating and drinking.
“But as the EHRC points out, the figure may actually be higher because many more may well be too frightened to complain. What’s more, that’s just home care: one element of a social care system which is becoming deluged as we live longer lives.
“The government knows about these issues - how can they not, as they are continually presented with evidence of a care system in crisis? Predictable pre-packaged Ministerial responses expressing outrage and pledging action are not enough.
“Let me ask this: when was the last time we saw any decisive action - as opposed to talk?
“Of course, we welcome the CQC’s proposed home care inspection plans, as well as any move which will help improve the quality and consistency of care – and consequently the quality of life - for our older generations. But the CQC has stopped inspecting the local authority commissioners themselves. If we do not tackle the root cause of the problem - inadequate resources for care - how can we expect decent care?
“We need to properly fund our care system and revere it as much as we do the NHS. We need a consistent regulatory and monitoring system that promotes and encourages best practice, not inconsistent and unprepared knee-jerk responses.
“The question needs to be asked just who monitors the local authority commissioners? They are putting pressure on care providers to offer the lowest priced possible care - and it should be obvious that 15 minute visits make it impossible to deliver adequate care. How do we get health and homecare to work in tandem, and get people back in their own home where they want to be and where care is most cost effective?
“It is vital that we drive the retention of some excellent people who do a tremendous job - the vast silent majority who never get a mention in dispatches. We need to promote care as a career and a profession, and highlight the requirement for best practice, and applaud it where we see it.”