“Shocking” examples of poor elderly care in the community suggests the home care system is at “breaking point”, it is claimed.
An investigation by consumer championing organisation Which? found many elderly people were left with soiled bedclothes, food left out of reach, and vital medication missed.
Which? asked 30 older people to keep diaries over the course of a week describing their experiences of home care.
Specific experiences found included: one elderly lady was left alone in the dark for hours unable to find food or drink, another was left without a walking frame so she was unable to get to the bathroom, and one man was not given vital diabetic medication.
A separate survey conducted by Which? reported tightening margins and managers speaking of a “struggle” in maintaining a quality service.
“The Government can no longer claim to be shocked as report after report highlights the pitiful state of care for older people,” said Richard Lloyd, Executive Director for Which?
“If they are serious about ensuring vulnerable people are treated with dignity, then we must see real action because every day they delay is another day older people risk being neglected
Rosemary Cook, Director of community nursing charity The Queen’s Nursing Institute said the findings were ‘very worrying’ and suggests home care services have now reached “breaking point”.
“The investigation mirrors our own research findings that community nursing services are very stretched, and hence very variable in quality,” she said.
"District nurses used to have a general oversight of health and social care that was provided, and were able to co-ordinate services to ensure that people received the most appropriate care.
"However, as more people live at home with complex, chronic conditions often for many years, services simply have not kept pace with the new challenges or, the sheer number of people who need care at home’,
"A ‘Berlin Wall’ now exists between health and social care, so that district nurses no longer have the central position that they used to. This contributes to patients receiving inappropriate care".
In light of the investigation, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has renewed its call for mandatory HCA regulation.
RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dr Peter Carter said the government has a chance to take “real action” on poor elderly care by ensuring healthcare support workers are regulated and have access to mandatory education and training.
Question: Do you think the changing position of district nurses has contributed to the perceived rise in poor elderly care in the community?