News release: Care home failings creating ‘culture of neglect’
6 July 2017
Care home failings creating ‘culture of neglect’
Government underfunding, lack of oversight and poor training are creating a “culture of neglect” in care homes for older people, charity Action on Elder Abuse has warned.
Following the publication of a damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report showing that 24% of residential care homes and an astonishing 37% of nursing homes were failing on safety, AEA chief executive Gary FitzGerald said firm action was needed to protect vulnerable residents from abuse.
A recent poll of 3,000 people commissioned by AEA found that almost 95% of respondents across the UK said they would like to see elder abuse made an ‘aggravated offence’ – similar to hate crimes based on race, religion or disability. This would force courts to take tougher action in response to crimes against older people, including neglect.
Mr FitzGerald said:
“Local Authorities are responsible for purchasing and paying for these services, but they are often failing in their responsibilities to monitor and respond to what is happening to the people they place in those services.
“Some of the issues – like re-using incontinence pads – are pure exploitation at the expense of vulnerable older people. This is nothing to do with funding, and everything to do with getting away with it. And there is simply no excuse for the incorrect management of medication. Of all the issues flagged by the CQC, this shows the level to which standards have dropped.
“But there’s no escaping the fact that lack of staff and poor training is a direct consequence of government cutbacks. They cannot lay this at the door of anyone else. Working in care is not attractive – it is underpaid, undervalued and under pressure.
“The system is failing. It has been failing for a long time – and it’s creating a culture of neglect that’s harming and even killing some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Government knows it. Local Government knows it. Care providers know it. And regulators know it. But no-one is actually doing anything about it.
“Better funding is part of the solution. But we also need much stronger legal protections so that abuse of older people is taken seriously. That’s why we’re calling for elder abuse to be made an aggravated offence similar to hate crimes based on race, religion, disability and sexual orientation.”
Notes to editors
Gary FitzGerald is available for media interviews. He is an experienced media commentator across broadcast, print and online outlets. Please contact James Tout (details below) to arrange.
A poll of 3,000 UK adults commissioned by Action on Elder Abuse and conducted by Censuswide showed that:
- 96% of people think perpetrators of abuse against older people should receive tougher sentences than those typically handed down by courts at present, such as community service or suspended sentences.
- 95% of people agreed (40%) or strongly agreed (55%) that older people are specifically targeted for abuse due to their perceived physical frailty or mental vulnerability.
- Just one in 12 people (8.5%) thinks the government does enough to support older victims of crime.
- Support for elder abuse being made an aggravated offence was consistent across the UK – in Scotland (95%), Wales (94%) and Northern Ireland (95%) as well as all regions of England.
About Action on Elder Abuse
Action on Elder Abuse is a UK-wide charity with a presence in all four nations. It aims to protect and prevent the abuse of vulnerable older people by raising awareness of the issues, encouraging education and giving information and support to those in need. It has the only national freephone helpline (Elder Abuse Response) dedicated to this cause, open Monday to Friday between the hours of 9.00am and 5.00pm on 080 8808 8141 for confidential support and information.