Cases of elderly abuse and neglect have risen by a third, with GPs warning that the UK care system is “rapidly disintegrating”.
Latest figures show that GPs made over 5,600 referrals to social services in 2015/16, an increase of 33% over a two-year period.
Worryingly, 60% of GPs who referred patients to social care services said they were unable to secure the appropriate care for those affected, and that the response from social services was wholly inadequate. It’s now believed that thousands of pensioners in care homes or their own home are suffering abuse and neglect, despite concerns from their GP.
Welfare charities involved in safeguarding the elderly have reacted angrily to the report, with Age UK labelling the findings “truly frightening”. The figures came as part of a Freedom of Information request by Pulse magazine, which is carrying out an investigation into the UK’s social care failings.
A survey of 800 GPs found that a third were unable to contact social services to make an abuse referral, whilst 42% said there was an unacceptable delay before any action was taken. Speaking to the Telegraph, Dr Ayesha Sharieff, a GP in South London, said her team often find it impossible to contact social services regarding abuse cases, and that, even after reaching the service, many social workers were found to be on stress-related leave.
Under safeguarding rules intended to protect vulnerable persons from abuse and neglect, GPs are expected to raise concerns with the relevant social care services. However, with the social care sector facing seismic spending cuts, doctors are finding it increasingly difficult to secure the appropriate support and care for elderly patients they suspect are suffering abuse.
Despite the government injecting £1 billion into the cash-strapped social care system last year, council chiefs this week confirmed that social care cuts will continue throughout 2017. Local authorities in England are facing pressure to make £824m in healthcare savings, and social care services are expected to take the brunt of the spending cuts.
9 in 10 Care Workers Have Witnessed Care Home Abuse
While news of the increase in abuse referrals is shocking, it’s sadly not all that surprising. Last year, a Nursing Times study revealed that nine in ten care workers have witnessed abuse and neglect in care homes, with one in four witnessing physical violence towards vulnerable elderly people. These figures are abhorrent, and highlight the deep-seated issues facing Britain’s social care system.
Over the past twelve months, cases of care home neglect and abuse have hit the headlines on several occasions, highlighting the need for an intervention into how social care services are managed and funded. And yet, despite the growing severity of the situation, news of rising abuse towards elderly people throws into sharp relief the government’s lack of action in working to address issues within the social care sector.
Through our work at Hudgell Solicitors, we deal with many cases of abuse towards elderly people, both in care homes and through home care. Just last month, we helped a family claim compensation on behalf of a 92-year old woman with dementia, who suffered a broken arm and hip after wandering from her care home without staff noticing. In light of the negligence of care workers, and the inadequate response from the management, the family received a five-figure settlement, with insurers accepting liability.
This is just one of the many cases of care home abuse and neglect we deal with on a near-daily basis. And while we recognise the financial strain social care services are under, we believe more must be done to safeguard vulnerable elderly people and prevent such traumatic cases of abuse and neglect.
The Love Our Vulnerable and Elderly (LOVE) Campaign Continues
Since February 2016, we’ve campaigned for CCTV systems to become compulsory in UK care homes in a bid to prevent cases of abuse and neglect towards the elderly. And our campaign continues.
In light of the soaring number of elderly abuse cases, we think it’s now more important than ever that people show their support for Love Our Vulnerable Elderly — a campaign to promote care, respect and dignity for elderly people.
In 2016, we launched a petition calling on parliament to make CCTV mandatory in all care and residential homes. The poll collected over 12,000 signatures and received recognition from The Department of Health, which said that it “does not object to the use of CCTV cameras” on a case by case basis”.
While our petition helped to raise awareness of the crucial role CCTV cameras can play in safeguarding vulnerable people, it’s clear that more work is needed to guarantee safety and comfort in care homes. We pledge to continue campaigning until all elderly people are given the respect and dignity they deserve.
To find out more about our work in helping vulnerable elderly people, visit our care home abuse page or call our team now.