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When excellent is rubbish - when you are old!

(June 11, 2009)

ALMOST two thirds of local councils rated as providing ‘excellent’ care at home are failing to provide any care at all to many older people who cannot carry out basic daily tasks, such as getting out of bed, using the toilet and washing themselves, according to new analysis released by Age Concern and Help the Aged.

“I’m not surprised by this news as even the ‘best’councils are obsessed with box ticking exercises rather than really serving those most in need,” said Steve Dancey, who has, sadly, a great deal of personal experience in this area.

“We tried to raise this issue in the election but it seems people were more interested in listening to the party politicians and their stupid squabbles about expenses or the Europe issue than important matters such as this which blight so many people’s lives.

“The position of old people is particularly grim in Wiltshire - I don‘t intend being a pensioner in this county as they are treated so badly.”

The charity released the findings as hundreds of older people arrive at Parliament on Wednesday to demand action from their MPs ahead of the publication of the Government’s long-promised Green Paper on social care reform.

The analysis by the charity found that, 35 out of 56 councils rated as ‘excellent’ by the Commission for Social Care Inspection, only provide care services to those with ‘critical or substantial’ needs.

By restricting home care to those who only meet the highest criteria, local councils continue to deny many older people the care they need to live dignified and independent lives.

Despite their needs being classed as ‘low’ or ‘moderate’ many of these older people are nonetheless disabled and housebound.

The charity is calling for the forthcoming Green Paper to reverse creeping eligibility restrictions and end the postcode lottery of service provision by guaranteeing services for all those with critical, substantial and moderate needs.

As part of the charity’s nationwide campaign to improve care and support, hundreds of older people and their relatives travelled across the country to London where they took part in a mass lobby of Parliament.

The campaigners met their local MPs in Westminster Hall to share their personal experiences of the care system and demand urgent action to radically reform the care system and improve the lives of older people.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age Concern and Help the Aged, said:

“This is just one example of how the crumbling care system is failing our older people.

“The reality is that even the ‘best’ local councils are leaving many older people to struggle without the care they need, slowly stripping away their dignity and independence.

“The call for action from older campaigners and their families is loud, clear and unified. It’s time for action, not endless consultation and discussion. Politicians cannot duck the care crisis any longer – any political party that fails to spell out how they would reform the care system is betraying the current and future generations of older people”

The charity estimates that it would cost an additional £1-2 billion per year to patch up the broken care system and more to deliver real reforms which would to ensure the protection of dignity and independence of all older people.

Before it was replaced by the Care Quality Commission in April 2009 the Commission for Social Care Inspection explicitly recognised the human damage being done by the failure of councils to provide care at home to many in need in its 2008 reports ‘The State of Social Care in England 2006-07’ and ‘Cutting the Cake fairly’.

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