The BBC Radio 4 programme File on 4 have submitted a Freedom of Information request for every council in England, Scotland and Wales which have responsibility for social care, to disclose the numbers of allegations of abuse and neglect made against the home carers that are contracted by the local authorities.
This request revealed that between 2013 – 14 and 2015 – 16 there had been at least 23,428 safeguarding alerts across the UK of allegations of abuse against carers working in various people’s homes. However, only half the councils have provided data.
The United Kingdom Homecare Association described the findings as “horrifying” and blamed the cuts to local government budgets for the problem.
File on 4 also discovered that prosecutions were rare, with just “700 of the 23,428 alerts resulting in police involvement and only 15 prosecutions.”
Gary Fitzgerald, from Action on Elder Abuse charity said: “The overwhelming majority of abuse is criminal in nature and never gets prosecuted. It gets social worked, but it doesn’t get prosecuted. If there’s an investigation, rarely will the police be involved. If the police are involved, they don’t actually want to upset that old person, so they won’t prosecute. So you might get a police caution if you’re lucky, or there might be no prosecution at all.” The Action on Elder Abuse charity are the first charity to address these problems and are the only charity in the United Kingdom working exclusively on the issue to protect and prevent the abuse of vulnerable older adults.
The local government ombudsman, Michael King, said “there was a growing problem over standards of home care.” Ombudsman complaints about homecare have risen by 25% last year to 372, and 65% of them were upheld. He told the BBC: “What we see is just the tip of the iceberg. We see a whole range of complaints: failure to look after people’s personal care needs, helping them with eating, with their own hygiene, helping them with medication, all sorts of day-to-day tasks that people should be getting help with.”
A Department of Health official said: “This government has introduced tougher inspections of care services, given councils access to up to £7.6bn of dedicated funding for social care and will continue to challenge local authorities that do not fulfil their duties under the Care Act.”
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