What an absolute scandal: 500 claims a week of abuse and neglect of the elderly

  • A quarter of alleged abusers were relatives
  • One in three cases involved physical harm
  • Government minister calls figures 'absolute scandal'


Fear: Tens of thousands of vulnerable adults were allegedly abused in their own homes last year

Fear: Tens of thousands of vulnerable adults were allegedly abused in their own homes last year

Almost 500 cases of abuse and neglect of the elderly are being reported every week.
Social services were called in to investigate 25,240 incidents last year including some where care home residents had been locked in bedrooms, tied to chairs or left to go hungry or thirsty.
The figures are the first the Health Service has published on suspected abuse of the elderly.
Forty-three per cent of incidents were in care homes at the hands of nurses or other staff. Four in ten complaints related to incidents at home and were blamed on visiting care workers or nurses. Hospitals and day care centres were the location for around 15 per cent of cases.
The report from the NHS Information Centre shows that only  5 per cent of incidents overall resulted in staff either being sacked or suspended.
And in only 1 per cent of cases were nurses, care workers or other staff referred to watchdogs such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council to investigate whether they should be struck off.
Around 30 per cent of all cases concerned neglect, which NHS officials define as ‘the withholding of the necessities of life’. This could include patients being denied meals and medication or being left in soiled clothing for hours.
A similar number of incidents concerned physical abuse or restraint, which can include locking dementia patients in their room or tying them to chairs or beds so they do not wander. A further 22 per cent were matters of financial abuse where, for example, carers had put pressure on elderly residents to include them in wills.
The figures also showed 7,465 cases of suspected abuse of adults with learning disabilities in residential homes.


The Mail’s long-running Dignity for the Elderly campaign has called for an end to neglect and abuse.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director of Age UK, said: ‘These figures show shocking mistreatment of the most vulnerable in our society.
‘It is extremely worrying to see such high levels of neglect and abuse in residential home settings.
‘The figures also raise concerns about the quality of domiciliary care, which is delivered in a person’s home behind closed doors and so problems are likely to be under reported.’
Paul Burstow, the care services minister, said: ‘These figures are an absolute scandal; no one should have to put up with abuse.
‘It is why we announced hundreds more unannounced inspections of adult care will be taking place, and we will also be making it mandatory to have local boards, involving police and other professionals, in place to tackle abuse. The tough new measures this Government is introducing will help root out and tackle abuse wherever it exists.’

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