Government accused of dragging its feet over bid to tackle elder abuse

    The government is being urged to tear up its response to the health
    select committee inquiry into elder abuse and start again.

    Action on Elder Abuse said the lacklustre reaction indicated a
    failure to “hear or fully understand the difficulties and
    shortfalls within the current systems”.

    Chief executive Gary FitzGerald said the response “fails to listen
    to or value the regulators, service providers, charities and trade
    unions who invested so much time and energy in making considered
    submissions on this important issue”.

    He added that the government had not done justice to many of the 40
    recommendations made by the select committee. All bar one of the
    measures to improve protection mentioned in the government press
    statement accompanying the response, such as establishing the
    Commission for Social Care Inspection and minimum standards, were
    implemented before the select committee inquiry was even set up.

    Age Concern’s director general, Gordon Lishman said it was a
    “bitter disappointment” that the government had taken the view that
    the existence of advice and helplines was an adequate response to
    the select committee’s call for advocacy.

    “Increased advocacy would have encouraged more older people to
    report cases of abuse,” Lishman said.

    While the select committee raised concerns about inadequacies in
    regulation, the government said it would discuss this with the
    Commission for Social Care Inspection only. It also stood by
    current training of care assistants, despite criticism from the
    select committee.

    The committee also feared that older people were being placed at
    “continuing risk” from daily contact with unregistered care
    workers. However, the government said decisions on which groups
    took priority for registration were made by the General Social Care
    Council.

    It added that the introduction of the Protection of Vulnerable
    Adults scheme later this month, and the domiciliary care agencies’
    regulations and national minimum standards, should reassure the
    committee that older people in their own homes had a high level of
    protection.

    The government argued that it had also taken steps to address the
    problem of incorrect prescription of medication within care homes,
    including providing financial incentives for GPs to review
    prescribed medicines.

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