Elderly's human rights 'not protected'

The human rights of older people receiving care at home are being overlooked, an inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found.

The inquiry is investigating how well over-65s who receive homecare visits are looked after in England.

The commission says it has uncovered worrying cases of neglect and examples of lack of respect for older people's privacy and dignity.

Its full report will be published in November.

After looking at the evidence, it says there are "major problems" in the home care system.

The Commission describes cases of people being left in bed for 17 hours, or more, between care visits and a failure to wash people regularly.

It received reports of people being left in filthy nightwear and bedding after a homecare visit, or without a wash or hair wash for several weeks.

Visits are sometimes so brief, the report says, that people have to choose between having a cooked meal or a wash.

The short visits also mean that staff have to rush tasks like washing and dressing, which frustrates elderly people and care staff.

No dignity

High staff turnover also has an impact on those being cared for, the commission finds.

The report said: "People have described the emotional impact of being washed and dressed by a large number of different people, and having to repeatedly disclose personal information every time a new care worker comes to the house."

Some older people describe feeling that their privacy and dignity were not respected when they were undressed by care staff in front of family members or in front of their bungalow window.

To gather evidence for the inquiry, the Equality and Human Rights Commission carried out surveys with local authorities, primary care trusts and home care providers.

Fifty-four per cent of local authorities completed the survey, as did 250 home care providers in England.

The commission also looked at over 500 written submissions from older people and their families, and 101 from home care staff.

One in five older people who responded to the commission's request for evidence said they would not normally complain because they didn not know how to - or for fear of repercussions.