The debate about the care of vulnerable adults, in particular the elderly, is intensifying. A year-long inquiry by The Equality and Human Rights Commission into standards of care for the elderly at home has uncovered “appalling” evidence of pensioners being deprived of food and drink, handled roughly, humiliated and even robbed. Many incidents amounted to “abuses of human rights”, which left elderly people feeling profoundly depressed, in tears and even expressing “a desire to die”, the report said. Many care workers often spend just 15 minutes with an elderly person, ticking off pre-arranged “tasks” in an approach that displayed “chronic disregard” for their dignity.
In one case, an elderly blind man said two council carers were talking to each other over his head, leaving him feeling like “a lump of meat”. In another, a 76-year-old woman with advanced cancer was told her care worker could not prepare her a microwave meal because of “health and safety” rules. Baroness Greengross, the commissioner responsible for the report, told The Daily Telegraph that 250,000 vulnerable pensioners in England were receiving “poor or very poor” standards of care at home…but the true figure may be far higher because many are “too frightened to complain”, she said. Continue reading Equality and Human Rights Commission join debate about elderly care
31 May – BBC Panorama’s Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed The BBC filmed abuse of patients with learning difficulties at Winterbourne View residential hospital in Bristol. During five weeks spent filming undercover, BBC Panorama’s reporter captured footage of some of the hospital’s most vulnerable patients being repeatedly pinned down, slapped, dragged into showers while fully clothed, taunted and teased.
The case has been condemned as “shocking” by the government and Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said he was determined to strengthen safeguards for vulnerable adults. He has already ordered a thorough examination of the roles of the government regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and the local authorities. CQC chairman Dame Jo Williams admitted that the failure to follow up the reports of a whistleblower – a senior nurse at the home – had been an “unforgivable error of judgement”. Avon and Somerset police confirmed three men – aged 42, 30 and 25 – and a 24-year-old woman were arrested as part of their investigation into the hospital. The hospital’s owners, Castlebeck, have apologised and suspended 13 employees. It has launched an internal investigation into its whistle-blower procedures and is reviewing the records of all 580 patients in 56 facilities. Winterbourne View can accommodate 24 patients and is taxpayer-funded, charging the state an average of £3,500 per patient per week.
The programme was broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday 31 May at 2100 BST and is available to view in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.