The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) claims that care workers face a combination of poor pay, high pressure and inadaquate support.
According to a new report, older and disabled people who receive social care in their homes are ‘vulnerable to neglectful or abusive treatment.’
The report states that the way the system is currently run is ‘unsustainable’ and calls on local authorities to change the way home care is commissioned.
If nothing is done, the commission warns that threats to older people’s human rights will continue and grow over the coming years.
Older people ‘vulnerable to neglectful or abusive treatment’
Some authorities have taken innovative action in partnership with providers and older people to improve how they deliver care, and now EHRC commissioner Sarah Veale wants more councils across the country to follow suit.
‘The current system of commissioning and funding home care is increasingly unsustainable as the number of people requiring care grows every year,’ she said.
‘Low status, low pay and poor working conditions are leading to high turnover of staff and putting older people’s human rights at risk.’
Current home care system ‘increasingly unsustainable’
The report claims that while care workers conduct many tasks similar to nurses, their role is viewed as ‘lower status’ in comparison.
It adds that the job requires ‘significant compassion and skill’ and ‘maturity and resilience’ yet their status does not reflect this.
Many care workers are not paid for travel time or the time between visits, which means that they could be working for less than the legal minimum wage.
The EHRC claims it is up to councils to ensure that workers – who are often recruited through external agencies – are paid the minimum wage.
‘Funding pressures which result in tight visits often have a devastating effect on both the older people relying on these services as well as the staff forced to choose between rushing visits, leaving early without finishing tasks, or running late between clients,’ commented Caroline Abrahams, charity director for Age UK.
‘Care providers, inspectors, and local authorities who arrange services must ensure that people’s human rights are respected.’