Older people put at risk due to care budget cuts

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission have said that budget cuts do not cover the cost of delivering care for elderly people.

    Equalities' regulators are warning that the human rights of older people are being put at risk due to local authorities scaling back budgets so far that they cannot afford the cost of adequate care. Irma Wants Some Coffee

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission report into home care follows a two year investigation finding evidence that there had been a "systematic failure" across the country, including cases of physical and financial abuse.

    The watchdog says a key reason for this breach of rights is because carers were neglecting tasks as councils paid them too little for their time.

    However in its latest report the regulator said: "The way home care is commissioned by local authorities may be increasing the risks of older people suffering human rights abuses. In particular, the rates some local authorities pay care providers do not always appear to cover the actual costs of delivering care, a significant proportion of which are workers' wages which should include travel time. Poor working conditions may lead to a high turnover of staff and increase the risks to the human rights of older people," reports the Guardian.

    The report noted that the lowest rate paid for an hour of daytime home care was £8.98 and 20 local authorities paid £11 or less. With this money care companies would then have to cover operating costs, profit and minimum wage.  

    The regulator calls for a minimum wage clause to be inserted into contracts between private firms that provide elderly care and councils which pay for it. "We believe that not only should contracts commissioning home care include a requirement that care workers are paid at least the national minimum wage, including payment for travel time, but also that local authorities should be transparent and set out how the rates they pay cover these costs."

    Norman Lamb, the care and support minister, warned: "There are too many examples of employers paying people less than the minimum wage by not taking account of travel times, or of councils buying short care visits that leave people waiting to get into or out of bed, to eat and drink or take their medication.

    "Social care organisations are independent and make their own decisions about their staff, but we are clear that they must abide by the law. We expect local authorities to commission good services that reward excellent care and pay fair wages. The newly appointed chief inspector of adult social care will have an important role in holding councils to account where this is not the case."

    Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/982475

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