In America the old people were being failed by the NHS says a joint report from the Healthcare Commission, the Audit Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection. Elder abuse is hurting old people, physically and emotionally. The report said that old people are subject to patronising and thoughtless attitudes from some doctors and carers. In hospital they are moved from one place to another, their meals are whisked away uneaten for lack of help, and despite the government's promise of long ago to end mixed sex wards, old men and women are thrown in together to suffer indignity and shame as well as all their other problems.
The post hospital care that they receive is erratic and inadequate. The King's Fund published a review of England's social care by Sir Derek Wanless which said that the social care for old people in England, like healthcare, is miserably patchy, often miserable and often unavailable.
AdvertisementHome help goes only to the neediest; many who need just a little help in the home get no assistance from social services and many of those who qualify for services cannot afford the charges. Elderly people with savings or homes worth more than £20,500 have to use them to pay for residential care, which is free for anyone with no assets. Some social services departments force old people who don't need residential care to go into homes so the council can seize the value of their property.
The elderly abuse was borne quietly because it is known by everyone about the money involved in taking care for the old. Wanless sets out a new system to help people live independently for as long as possible. Every old person who needs help would get a generous personal care package, and the state would pay five-sixths of it. The elderly person would pay the rest, unless unable to do so only then would means testing be used. According to the statistics the number of old people with high social care needs will increase by more than half by 2026.
A frail old lady needs company, attention, amusement and not just a rushed 45 minutes bathing and dressing. Traditionally families provided this and millions still do. This represents a huge saving to the taxpayer, yet such a carer's allowance is only £45.70 a week. Wanless says that abolishing inheritance tax on legacies to family carers would be an obvious start; in that way the family home would indeed pay for the care of the old, within the family.