Thousands Of Elderly Abused In Care Homes

Tens of thousands of vulnerable old people are suffering appalling abuse in homes for the elderly, experts are warning.

The first ever audit of calls to England’s social care watchdog shows that more than 1,000 were made in just six months by people who suspected their relations or friends were being abused by care workers.

Social services chiefs estimate that a further 60,000 “alert calls” are made directly to local councils every year.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) has uncovered homes where residents were routinely tied to their beds and chairs, locked up or dragged around by their hair. Some were refused food to punish “bad behaviour”, denied trips to the lavatory or stolen from by staff.

The figures show that 1,043 calls were made to the CSCI in the six months ending in March, regarding 506 residential homes and agencies providing home helps. No national statistics are kept on the number of cases logged when relations contact councils to raise concerns.

The audit was disclosed by the CSCI as it prepared to publish, on Wednesday, its first guide to all 4,000 residential homes in England for the elderly and disabled, giving each a star rating so that relations can compare factors such as the use of sedatives, staff training, and social activities.

The inspectorate has already said 248 homes do not meet basic safety standards. Investigations have revealed a woman of 85 who had her fingernails ripped off by a care worker, a 78‑year‑old covered in cigarette burns, and a number of thefts of pensions by “home helps”.

Charities are calling for new laws to oblige councils that are told about possible abuse to investigate, as is the case in child protection. They say the current voluntary system means social workers and police fail to step in even when relations identify risks.

Gary Fitzgerald, chief executive of the charity Action on Elder Abuse, said: “If you include abuse carried out by relatives and friends, studies suggest there could be 500,000 cases each year across Britain.”