Consumer group investigation found home care system “at breaking point”


UNISON has blamed “a toxic combination of funding cuts and privatisation” for driving down standards in homecare, leaving elderly people without the help and support they need.

Commenting on a report by consumer magazine ‘Which?’, describing standards of homecare services as “disgraceful”, the union is warning that without government action, things will only get worse.

Which? asked 30 older people to keep diaries during one week in January.

It says they showed a distressed older woman left in the dark, unable to see her food or drink, a man’s vital diabetic medication forgotten and rushing careworkers.

The consumer campaign organisation says the system is “at breaking point”.

According to UNISON, with 84% of homecare services now run by private companies, government cuts have led to councils cutting the cost of contracts, pay has fallen and training in many cases is nearly non-existent.

Heather Wakefield, UNISON Head of Local Government said: ”Home care services should provide elderly people with the help and support they need to carry on living with dignity in their own homes.  

“This is the preferred option for many people and cheaper than residential care.

“The Coalition government has inflicted drastic cuts on local authorities with the result that elderly people are suffering.  

“Cash strapped councils are selling off 15 minute care slots to the lowest bidder. Is it any wonder that care workers tell us they don’t have the time they need to care for elderly people properly?

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd says: ‘The Government can no longer claim to be shocked as report after report highlights the pitiful state of care for older people.

‘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.’


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