'Systematic Failures' In Care For Elderly

Britain's elderly are not safe from abuse or neglect from those caring for them in their homes, a new report has claimed.

An inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found widespread systematic failures by those who help older people with washing, dressing and eating.

The investigation spoke to more than 1,000 older people, their friends and family.

While around half said they were satisfied with their home care, the EHRC said there were as many examples of treatment, including cases of physical and financial abuse, which breached human rights.

The findings also included disregard for the privacy of older people and a disregard for their dignity while carrying out intimate tasks.

It also discovered instances of carers refusing to heat and serve food because of health and safety concerns which the report describes as "unfounded".

"The cumulative impact on older people can be profoundly depressing and stressful: tears, frustration, expressions of a desire to die and feelings of being stripped of self-worth and dignity - much of which was avoidable," the report says.

Equality and human rights commissioner Baroness Sally Greengross said cuts in funding meant councils were reducing carers' hours, meaning tasks were being neglected:

"The emphasis is on saving pennies rather than providing a service which will meet the very real needs of our grandparents, our parents, and eventually all of us,"

A woman from Sheffield told the investigation that a carer dropped her 95-year-old father's medication on the ground.

She said the carer shoved the pills back into the container, resulting in his medication being administered at the wrong time.

A few days later he had a stroke and died 10 days later in hospital.

His family is convinced the incident contributed to his death.

Care services minister Paul Burstow welcomed the report and said the Government "won't tolerate poor care".