Inquiry discovers neglect of elderly in the United Kingdom

Elderly woman in Care Home in the United Kingdom

Basic Human Rights Should Apply to Elderly Home Care at All Times, an Inquiry Says, but the Money Is Not There!

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees on paper at least respect for dignity and personal autonomy while article 3 prohibits ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ and article 2, promotes the ‘right’ to life.

Inevitably it seems and very depressingly, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has evidence that for many elderly people in the UK, all of these articles are being flouted daily in their own homes by the very people taxpayers pay to care for them. The Commission points an admonishing finger at local councils to press them into balancing quality of elderly home services with cost when commissioning services from private providers.

The Commission made clear that most of the failings were due to training and recruitment where basic compassion and common sense among paid carers comes second to time management. Why does the Commission have to even point out sensible human practices such as carers draping people with a towel during ablutions to save their face and their dignity? There is also a case of age discrimination since older people get less cash towards their basic care needs than young people with the same kinds of needs.

The Commission were not hopeful of imminent improvement since a third of all local councils have cut back on care expenditure in the home and another fifth of them are about to follow suit. It is almost as if the human rights act is a luxury to be afforded only in times of plenty.

The home care review by the Commission documented cases of neglect, abuse both physical and financial and a common disregard for individual privacy and dignity. They reported that often times support for necessities such as washing and dressing was “dehumanizing” and left the elderly feeling degraded.

There is now an overwhelming case for a total revolution in this social service but there is no money available to do it, no matter how many campaigners use ever more extreme epithets , way beyond “shameful”. Nobody in a position of power is shamed enough to do anything and so the picture will only deteriorate.

There are at this time almost half a million elderly people who receive counsel funded care support at home. The Commission said that only about half of those who had submitted evidence expressed genuine satisfaction with the care received.

The commonest issues from the other half included:

  • Not enough help in cooking and eating.
  • Neglect of the person in favor of the easier tasks.
  • One person was left on the toilet while the carer cleaned elsewhere.
  • The systematic taking of money over time.
  • Chronic neglect of privacy and human dignity e.g. failing to wash them or putting them to bed when they didn’t wish it.
  • Patronizing attitudes and no shortage of rough physical handling.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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