Scandal of elderly facing abuse and neglect in own homes

New inquiry highlights a catalogue of wrongdoing, cruelty and indifference by visiting carers

Elderly people in Britain are not safe from abuse and neglect by the care system even in their own homes.

Following reports that have painted a devastating picture of the care of elderly people in hospitals and care homes, a new inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has uncovered a catalogue of cruelty, indifference and wrongdoing by carers who visit people in their homes to help them with washing, eating and dressing.

Yesterday the Care Quality Commission (CQC) attempted to pre-empt the report by announcing a programme of inspections of 250 companies providing home care services starting next April.

Almost 500,000 elderly people are looked after in their own homes by carers partly or wholly funded by their local authority. The EHRC found cases of people who were put to bed in mid-afternoon and left in soiled nightwear until morning. They were strip washed with no respect for their dignity and food was left out of reach so they went hungry. Some were systematically robbed of their money.

In one example, a care worker refused to help a women who was stuck on the toilet in her bathroom. The woman shouted for help but the carer replied: "Can't do that but I've made you a butty and I am going now." The woman was left to free herself.

In another, a young female carer watched as a 76-year-old woman with terminal cancer struggled from her lounge to the kitchen to microwave a meal after the carer said she could not do it for "health and safety" reasons. The report says the carer might have misinterpreted rules that applied to restaurants. The Health and Safety executive confirmed that there was no reason why a carer should not microwave a pre-prepared meal for a client.

"These small acts of cruelty are being enacted, possibly unthinkingly, every day," the woman's daughter told the inquiry.

Earlier this year, the CQC exposed "alarming" lapses in the provision of the most basic care to elderly people in hospital following 100 unannounced visits, including staff speaking in a condescending way, curtains not closed properly to protect patient's dignity and food left out of reach. But today's report from the EHRC shows low standards are not confined to institutional care.

Yet owing to a legal loophole, organisations that provide care at home are not subject to the Human Rights Act, as they are if providing care in institutions. The EHRC said this loophole must be closed.

Baroness Sally Greengross, Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "It is essential that care services respect people's basic human rights. This is not about burdensome red tape, it is about protecting people from the kind of dehumanising treatment we have uncovered. The emphasis is on saving pennies rather than providing a service which will meet the very real needs of our grandparents, our parents, and eventually all of us."

Half of the 1,254 older people, friends and family members interviewed for the inquiry expressed satisfaction with their care. They valued having a small number of familiar and reliable staff they could get to know who took time to talk to them and would respond to specific requests.

Case study: Jim and Ann Reid

During the last three and a half years of Jim Reid's life, 53 carers passed through the home he shared with his wife, Ann. Mr Reid, who had Alzheimer's disease, died aged 84 in 2008. While some carers were good, others were "absolutely appalling", according to Ann, 65.

She said: "I was disgusted. You are frightened to go out of the door because of what you will find when you come back.

"One time, I went out and told the carer not to bring Jim down because he was unwell. He put him in the stairlift anyway but Jim wet himself. So the carer sent the stairlift back to the top and left him sitting in wet pyjamas.

"Another time, Jim was sat in the conservatory with the door open when he said he wanted to go to the toilet. The carer thought they were alone and told him to shut up because he was reading the paper. My neighbour overheard and came round to tell me."

Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer was final surviving member of seminal punk band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice