No one can be in any doubt that child protection is high on the
government’s agenda but can the same be said for the protection of
another, even larger group – older people.
As elder abuse happens behind closed doors it’s difficult to gauge
its prevalence. But an all-party group of MPs has accepted
estimates that about half a million older people in England alone
are subject to ill-treatment of some sort. It is a scandal that
abuse such as over-medication in care homes – a problem first
highlighted years ago – is still going on.
Equally worrying and often harder to detect is ill-treatment of
older people in their own homes. One way of combating this is
adequate staff training to enable them to pick up on warning signs.
But the chronic shortage of NVQ places in this area means that even
when care staff want to acquire skills and employers want to train
their workforce up to the required standards they are just not able
to. Yes, the government has agreed to fund research to determine
the extent of abuse. But only when the issue is tackled with the
same determination as child abuse will we stand any chance at all
of protecting the basic human rights of our older people.