Rights watchdog: Age discrimination institutionalised in social care

Age discrimination is “institutionalised” in social care, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said today.

In a report on the future of social care, the commission promised to investigate the level of age discrimination in social care and produce proposals to root it out.

The government’s forthcoming Equality Bill will end unjustifiable age discrimination in the provision of goods and services, including social care.

£2bn bill for ending ageism

A Department of Health-commissioned paper last year estimated that rooting out age discrimination in social care would cost £2bn a year. It found older people on individual budgets received less than those under 65 with equivalent levels of need

The DH has set up a working group to examine the impact of an ageism ban on health and social care but it is not due to report until beyond the next election, prompting fears that the ban’s implementation will be severely delayed.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission also said that people moving between areas should be able to transfer their care and support package, something which is currently not guaranteed under ordinary residence rules.

Highlighting advocacy gaps

It also called for a “consistent supply of independent advocacy” for social care users and promised to highlight gaps in provision and fund “innovation in advocacy” through its grants scheme.

The EHRC also said social care needed to be based on a “national framework of human rights”, saying this would help people to live as “full and equal citizens” and end “abuses” such as the unnecessary separation of married couples when one moves to a care home.

Last May, the DH said it would begin discussions with councils to ensure older people are only split up in “exceptional circumstances“, and it subsequently invited bids for extra care housing funding with criteria including helping keep older couples together.

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