Home care breaches human rights, finds equality watchdog

Home care services in the UK are breaching older people’s human rights, the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned today.

Home care services in the UK are breaching older people’s human rights, the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned today.

The EHRC found evidence of people being left in bed for up to 17 hours at a time, being abandoned in soiled bed sheets, refused help to eat and drink and being stripped of their privacy and dignity, as part of an inquiry it is conducting into the issue.

It said that short appointment times, often of only 15 minutes, high staff turnover and a  lack of training were some of the causes of the human rights breaches.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said the evidence showed instances of “serious neglect”. “Decent care is about looking after a fellow human being in the way that we would like to be cared for when we are older,” she said:

The biggest threat to the human rights of older people receiving care at home is from cuts to adult social care budgets and it is very unclear whether tightening eligibility criteria to care will allow local authorities to continue to meet their human rights obligations,” she added.

The United Kingdom Homecare Association described the findings as “disturbing” and reflected cost-cutting by council commissioners. “While the majority of homecare is delivered by voluntary organisations and private companies, it is funded by local councils, who effectively determine how much time is available to care providers to deliver services,” it said.

“Regrettably, in the current financial situation, there is an emerging pattern of councils continuing to use their dominant purchasing power to push down the price paid to their providers and actively reducing the time allocated to each person receiving care.”

The EHRC is due to publish a full report before the end of the year.

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