AEA hits out at ‘institutional ageism’ flagged by report
Action on Elder Abuse says report from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), which says patients are being put at risk by gaps in health and social care, highlights systemic discrimination.
Action on Elder Abuse today warned that failings in care for frail older patients that are seeing them suffer harrowing ordeals when sent home from hospital amount to institutional ageism.
Chief Executive of AEA, Gary FitzGerald, described the findings in a report from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), published yesterday [Sept 27th] “horrific” and symptomatic of wider attitudes towards older people that are resulting in abuse and neglect.
Cases examined included an 85-year-old with dementia, sent home at 11pm without food, drink or bedding, and unable to get to the toilet.
Another elderly patient died in her granddaughter’s arms, just hours after being sent home by doctors who failed to examine her properly.
MPs have urged the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to act to prevent patients being discharged against their will between 11pm and 6am.
AEA is the only UK-wide charity specifically focused on tackling abuse of older people. It operates a freephone helpline on 080 8808 8141 that victims of abuse and their families can call for advice and ongoing support. The charity recently launched a Parliamentary petition to make elder abuse an aggravated offence under criminal law (Petition number 132323).
Mr FitzGerald said:
“This horrific report is further evidence of an institutional ageism in our society that sees older people as lesser citizens who can be pushed around or ignored because of their perceived vulnerability.
“We can only imagine the terror experienced by some older people sent home against their wishes from hospital, often to an inappropriate setting.
“As well as highlighting the serious deficiencies in our health and social care system, which is under extreme funding pressures, it shows a frankly callous attitude that defies all understanding.
“This simply shouldn’t be happening in a society that claims to care for its elders. But the fact that it is suggests that health authorities simply have no fear of prosecution or sanction.
“That’s why Action on Elder Abuse is campaigning for abuse against older people to be treated as an aggravated criminal offence, similar to hate crimes, to make perpetrators think twice before subjecting an older person to abuse or neglect.”