May 24, 2024


Scandalous and shameful: that’s how care for British elderly in hospital and nursing homes has been described by its critics. A British parliamentary committee on human rights has just released a disturbing report on how the elderly are treated. Many patients endure neglect so severe that they are left lying in their own faeces or urine or suffer malnutrition and dehydration because they have no one to feed them properly.

The committee has recommended that the law should be given teeth to force hospitals and nursing homes to protect the human rights of the elderly in their care. "An entire culture change" is needed to ensure that patients are treated with dignity. The report says that as many as half a million older people are subject to some form of abuse in Britain.

Although many elderly do receive very high quality care, the report says that over one-fifth of nursing homes were failing to meet national minimum standards for privacy and dignity more than three years after they were introduced.

As for the root cause of this neglect, the committee takes, unsurprisingly, a human rights approach and singles out "the power imbalance between service providers and service users" and "historic and embedded ageism within healthcare".