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OLDER people’s basic human rights are being overlooked in the provision of care at home, according to emerging findings released today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The Commission has uncovered:

  • People being left in bed for 17 hours or more between care visits;
  • Failure to wash people regularly and provide people with the support they need to eat and drink;
  • People being left in soiled beds and clothes for long periods;
  • A high staff turnover causing some people to have a huge number of different carers performing intimate tasks such as washing and dressing. In one case a woman recorded having 32 different carers over a two week period.

Other major concerns include:

Inadequate time to deliver care: The very brief time allocated to homecare visits – just 15 minutes in a number of cases – does not allow even basic essential tasks to be done properly. As a result people sometimes have to choose between having a cooked meal or a wash. The short visits also mean that staff have to rush tasks like washing and dressing. Older people and care staff alike have expressed dissatisfaction and frustration about this issue.

Lack of control over timing of care visits: Many older people have little or no control over what time the homecare visit happens. Often people are being put to bed at 5pm and not helped to get up until 10am the following day.

Failure to deliver adequate homecare: People have been left in filthy nightwear and bedding after a homecare visit or without a wash or hair wash for several weeks.

Lack of staff awareness and training: Some older people have described feeling that their privacy and dignity is not respected.

Lack of complaints and low expectations: One in five older people who responded to the call for evidence said that they would not complain because they didn’t know how to, or for fear of repercussions.

Caroline Bernard, deputy chief executive at national charity Counsel and Care, said: “This report is extremely alarming. Following recent reports into the quality of care in residential and nursing homes, it is distressing to see that in some cases, there is also a lack of good quality homecare provision for older people.

“Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Having only fifteen minutes with a care worker per day and being left in soiled clothing is a deep injustice to older people and is clearly unacceptable.

“For fear of reprisal many older people don’t complain about poor care at home. It is essential that steps are taken to stop these serious breaches of human rights.”

The Commission’s full report will be published in November.