Community home care in the U.K. is failing. As a result one in three elderly patients are in fear of abuse and neglect.
It will come as no surprise to most of us that our Community Home Care for the elderly is failing miserably. At the time of writing this article, January 2013, details of a Government survey has been published revealing some shocking statistics in the UK on the state of care in our community homes, hospitals and even care at home.
Tens of thousands of vulnerable elderly patients say they feel at risk from abuse and have been allowed to go hungry, unwashed and many are even thirsty. These are surely basic human needs.
This is before you look at the lack of stimulation in the way of meaningful interaction and activities that should be provided to keep them socially engaged with a decent quality of life in their later years.
It seems ironic that the generation who is suffering is the one that helped to create the welfare system and one that they have paid towards for most of their working life.
There is no doubt that the system is failing miserably and urgent reform is needed. Charities across the Country are claiming that the system is in 'massive crisis' and warn that the situation could get even worse as cash strapped local authorities are targeting care budgets for further costs.
The Adult social Care Survey, which was carried out by the Department of Health, regulator the Care Quality Commission and the NHS's Health and Social Care Information Centre found:
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You may be forgiven if you think that the care we are talking about here is provided free but unfortunately for many it's not.
In NHS Hospitals the care is supposedly free, but in reality those who have worked have had to pay contributions all their lives towards the cost of medical care.
For community home care i.e. in a residential home for the elderly, most people have to pay either all or part of their care costs.
At present there is no limit on the amount of money a person may be asked to pay to fund their care in old age. Only those who have assets of less than £23,500 receive their care free.
Last year an independent commission was set up to look at the future of how care costs can be met. At the moment many elderly people are forced into selling their homes in order to meet the costs of community home costs.
A place in a care home now costs up to £30,000 a year, almost
twice the average pensioner's income, according to new figures.
Costs vary across the country but a single room in a private residential home in Britain now costs an average of £25,953 a year, but a typical single pensioner is on an annual income of just £13,998, the research found. This leaves a shortfall of £11,965 a year.
In London, the most expensive region in the country, average care home costs were £30,784 a year, while in the South-East, annual fees typically reached £29,827.
Many suggestions are being put forward with talks of a lifetime cap of around £35,000 - £50,000. However this lifetime cap would pay only for nursing and personal care such as washing and dressing and not for accommodation costs which could attract a further annual cap of £7,000 - £10,000.
However at the moment the Government seem to be unable to agree on how to proceed with the proposed Care Reform Bill.
Mum and I experienced our own Community Home Care Crisis between 2002 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimers Dementia and 2007 when she died. I would have hoped that things had improved since then but it seems they are deteriorating with more and more cases coming to light.
Community home care has to be fit for purpose. The purpose is to care for our vulnerable and elderly relatives with compassion enabling them to live the rest of their lives out with dignity and peace of mind, assured that they will receive the best possible care in their hour of need.
Unfortunately the pressure is on us the babyboomer generation to make sure that happens. We are the generation that have elderly parents that may need care or are already in care. It's our loved ones that are suffering at the moment and it is only us that can stand up and fight for
It is also a stark reminder for us that we are not that far away from becoming that vulnerable elderly person one day. Is this how we
want to be treated?
We all hope and pray that we will never need community home care but unfortunately none of us knows what lies ahead. Perhaps it's just as well!
Until you experience the despair of trying to find community home care for someone you love that offers a good level of care, comfort, choice of food, and some social interaction you won't realise the urgency for Care Reform.
The reform needs to cover both how it's funded but more importantly how it's delivered. There's no doubt that standards of care in the U.K. have deteriorated so badly that patients are dying needlessly through sheer neglect. It surely must be improved to a standard one would expect in a civilized country.
The guilt you feel at having to make the decision to put your relatives into care and find a suitable care home is bad enough without having to know that you are placing them in danger of abuse and neglect.
Once our welfare system was the envy of the world but it seems to be more about hitting targets and completing paperwork rather than nursing and caring for patients.
It's only us that can keep the shame of Community Home Care in the spotlight until improvements are made. We can't just sit back and let our elderly suffer. We have to make a fuss and demand change. We need to highlight the problems when we encounter them and not just accept that this is how it is.
Age Uk are backing a campaign to end the care crisis - Care-in-Crisis Campaign Please go over and see how you can help.
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