Regulator to carry out 250 inspections in wake of critical study

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A CARE industry regulator is to carry out inspections of 250 providers of homecare by going into the homes of older people who are using services.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said it would focus on dignity and respect after consumer group Which? revealed that older people are suffering “disgraceful” home care including missed medication and confinement to soiled beds.

Undercover researchers for the watchdog reported missed visits, food placed out of reach and vulnerable people left without a way of getting to the bathroom.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) chief executive Cynthia Bower said: “Home care is one of the most difficult areas of care to monitor because it is delivered behind closed doors which is why, starting next month, CQC will be carrying out a themed inspection programme of 250 providers of domiciliary care services.

“We will be focusing on dignity and respect, the safeguarding of people in vulnerable circumstances and how well supported and trained home care staff are to undertake these most important care tasks.

“We will use a range of ways of checking up on these services, including going into people’s homes, contacting people who use services and their families and talking to local groups who represent the users of home care services.”

The watchdog revealed one elderly woman was left alone in the dark for hours unable to find food or drink. Another was left without a walking frame, leaving her unable to get to the bathroom, while one man was not given vital diabetes medication.

Which? declined to name the agencies involved, saying it wants to protect people who gave feedback.

One unnamed daughter reported: “They missed a day just after Christmas. They incorrectly entered into their database the days we didn’t need care. I covered but mum didn’t contact me until early evening, by which time she needed a lot of cleaning up. You wonder about the elderly with no relatives.”

Others did identify good service, with one son saying: “My mum’s carer does things without being asked, such as tidying up, and will do extra things like brushing her shoes. Mum says she’s a real carer.”

However, a separate Which? survey found one of the most common complaints was missed and rushed visits. Almost half of the respondents said at least one had been missed in the past six months, while 62 per cent of those had not been warned in advance.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “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.”

The UK Homecare Association’s chairman, Mike Padgham, said: “People and their families must be confident that they will receive dignified and effective care. They must look to Government and local councils to place the needs of elderly and disabled people at the forefront in the current economic climate, to avoid the concerning picture described in today’s report.”