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By Debbie le Quesne

Now Equalities Commission warns over social care

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Councils are abusing elderly people’s human rights by forcing down the price they pay agencies to provide care in their homes, the UK’s Quality and Human Rights Commission warns.

Reported in The Telegraph, the report accuses local authorities of actively creating “incentives” for private contractors for care to get worse rather than better.

I have read this report twice and I still can’t believe what I’m reading. Quote: “The Commission found that in many cases councils are not even paying a rate which covers the ‘actual cost’ of providing care.

“As a result, it says, care workers are routinely being paid below the legal minimum wage when travel costs and time between appointments are included.”

I’m not shocked that this is still making headlines and that the article reports that “morale in the industry is now so low that elderly people who rely on help simply to get out of bed or wash are faced with a constant turnover of staff, rushed appointments and basic tasks left undone.”

The piece concludes that fiscal restraints on care spending could amount to a breach of international anti-torture rules as well as UK anti-ageism laws.

The Telegraph adds that the Commission raised the matter two years ago and in many cases the situation was likely to be getting worse rather than better.

“The way home care is commissioned by local authorities may be increasing the risks of older people suffering human rights abuses,” it said.

The Commission added: “Poor working conditions may lead to a high turnover of staff and increase the risks to the human rights of older people.”

Key to the legal claims here are Article Three of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits “inhuman or degrading treatment”, and Article Eight which protects family life, as well as domestic law requiring public bodies to promote equality including age equality

Clearly all local authorities must meet their human rights obligations.

Guess the next stage will be a test case . . .

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