REVEALED: Hundreds of reports of abuse and neglect at care homes

Investigations were launched into hundreds of reports of abuse and neglect at care homes in the Black Country and Staffordshire last year.

Concerns have been raised over reports of abuse and neglect at care homes
Concerns have been raised over reports of abuse and neglect at care homes

Charity Age UK has called for a zero-tolerance approach to abuse, after "deeply distressing" figures revealed an increase in investigations of maltreatment of elderly people across England.

If councils believe an adult with care and support needs is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, they must carry out what is known as a Section 42 inquiry, to determine whether they need to step in.

Figures released by NHS Digital revealed Wolverhampton Council completed 155 such enquiries into incidents occurring in care homes in 2018/19.

There were 120 in Dudley, 185 in Sandwell, 180 in Walsall.

There were 740 abuse inquiries in Staffordshire, which covers a much larger area.

The inquiries – which can also be carried out for suspected abuse occurring in other settings, such as hospitals or a victim's own home – may concern allegations of physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse, as well as neglect and substandard care.

Across England, people aged 85 and over were 20 times more likely to be the subject of a Section 42 inquiry than those aged between 18 and 64.

Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, said the figures were "deeply distressing".

She said: "Some older people are being badly let down by a system that has failed to treat them with respect or protect them from abuse and neglect and this urgently needs to change.

"Care homes must adhere to the strict rules and procedures which are devised to help prevent problems such as abuse, poor management and neglect.

"Any abuse, whether neglect, financial manipulation or physical or mental cruelty, is unacceptable and deserves a zero-tolerance approach.

"We would encourage anyone who suspects that someone is being abused to contact their social services department or the police straight away."

The number of enquiries carried out in care homes in Wolverhampton increased by 55 per cent compared to the previous year, when there were 100. Abuse inquiries increased by 10 in Dudley and Walsall.

Across England, the number of cases rose by six per cent over the same period, climbing to 47,535.

The likelihood of a person aged 85 and over being the subject of an enquiry has also increased across England, rising from one in 43 during 2017-18 to one in 41 last year.

Alan White, Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and health boss, said: “People with care and support needs have a right to be protected from abuse and neglect.”

“While actual cases of abuse or neglect are not common, we take any allegations seriously and ensure that they are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken where necessary.”

Dudley Council's health boss Councillor Nicolas Barlow said: "The vast majority of care commissioned by Dudley Council is of good quality and this is reflected by ratings from the Care Quality Commission.

"There are times when it is entirely appropriate for a care home to raise a safeguarding enquiry to ensure transparency and openness."

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