23/11/2011 05:54 GMT | Updated 23/11/2011 06:14 GMT

EHCR: Britain's Elderly In Social Care Suffering Neglect, Cruelty And Abuse Which Breaches Human Rights, Says Report

Britain’s elderly in council-funded care are being left hungry and unwashed, according to a report.

Published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the inquiry highlights not only cases of neglect by carers, but a disregard for people’s privacy, acts of cruelty and in some cases actual physical abuse.

Set up to investigate home care among the UK’s elderly population, the document said there was a “systematic failure” in the older people’s social care, which in many cases breached human rights.

Based on the testimony of 1,200 elderly recipients of home care, the commission reported that the cumulative impact of neglect can be “profoundly depressing and stressful” and can lead to “tears, frustration, expressions of a desire to die and feelings of being stripped of self-worth and dignity”.

The commission said the cutting of carers’ hours as one of the root causes of the neglect, with carers often allotted as little as fifteen minutes to spend with each person. It also stressed the need for greater cover for the elderly within the Human Rights Act.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said: "This important report shines a light on the too often invisible experiences of older people receiving care at home,” she said, calling the service “stretched to the limit”.

"It is unacceptable for elderly people to be left for hours without food and drink or not to be properly cleaned.

"Despite all the evidence of the growing crisis in care, the Government is cutting funding for older people's social care by £1.3bn in real terms this Parliament.”

In response to the publication, Paul Burstow, the minister for care services, said: "The EHCR's report exposes the good, bad and ugly sides of care in peoples own homes. This government won't tolerate poor care. I am determined to root out ageism and bad practice to drive up quality and dignity in care."