I was pleased to read recently that the Telegraph is launching a ‘Justice for the Elderly’ campaign which is calling for some much needed and long awaited reforms to the care system. The campaign is calling for proper training and licensing for care workers and better regulation of the care services.
Did you know that you don’t need any formal training or need a license to become a care worker? You need a license if you are a bouncer or a hairdresser but not if you are caring for the most vulnerable people in our society! The care workers coming into our homes to look after our elderly have no license, no mandatory training, no exams to pass, no required on-the-job assessment of their abilities, nothing. They could be anyone and they might not have a caring bone in their body. Madness!
In the past year over 500 different care providers failed to comply with basic legal rules governing the standards of their staff according to the official regulator the Care Quality Commission. That speaks volumes. It really is terrible that in this day and age so many elderly people are put at risk because too many care homes and home care systems are not working. We really are not great at looking after our elderly in this country. As a nation we spend so much money on researching life threatening diseases, but very little on actually caring for the ever growing aging population.
Last month the Government gave another £2 billion in funding to the NHS but as most social care is organised by local councils, this won’t help with the issue. The care industry has the highest vacancy and turnover rates which we think is disgraceful. This is partly due to the thousands of care workers who are working for less than a minimum wage under cowboy agencies without any training. If there were proper regulation and licenses, these cowboy agencies wouldn’t be able to operate and these care workers wouldn’t be exploited.
Elderly people who have paid taxes all their working lives deserve so much more. It seems there is simply not enough money in the system to provide the level and quality of care that people deserve. Meals on wheels services have dropped dramatically over the last few years due to lack of funding which is not good news. Having one hot meal a day is a lifeline for many elderly and without it their health could suffer and as a result end up in hospital or a care home. This sounds like false economy to me.
We should make caring for our elderly top priority. We have been working with the elderly and disabled for many years adapting homes and helping them to stay at home and independent for as long as possible. We understand the concerns the elderly have and worries they face. The care system seriously needs reform in all areas and we are backing the Justice for the Elderly campaign all the way.