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Carers putting patients to bed early to save money
ELDERLY and disabled people are being put to bed early in a bid to save cash, the Daily Echo can reveal.
And one Winchester pensioner has now complained his human rights are being neglected as he has been left in bed for 15 hours per day.
Some have received visits from home helps and been fed, washed and put to bed as early as 5pm.
Many others are in bed by 8pm because of a shortage of carers.
And today we can reveal that many older people have little or no control over what time their homecare visit happens – and some bedtimes have been brought forward.
The experience of Terry Lister, 76, who suffers from advanced multiple sclerosis which confines him to his wheelchair, is a case in point.
The grandfather-of-six cannot get up, wash or dress without help.
Carers from a night care service at Hampshire County Council used to visit at about 10.30pm with the NHS paying for his care. But the NHS switched to a private agency.
Now Mr Lister is in bed by 8.30pm and not helped to get up until 9.30am, a period of 13 hours plus a two-hour afternoon rest – 15 hours in total.
Mr Lister, who lives in Winchester, said: “It made an enormous difference.
During the afternoons I have two hours in bed because of pressure sores from my wheelchair but now I shall be getting them from the bed.
“Carers have told me of people being put to bed at 5pm. I was offered a 6.30pm slot and refused it but many elderly people don’t complain and just accept it.
You rely on your carers and some people have no family to back them up.
“I feel it is against my human rights because it prevents me from having any family, recreation or creative life.”
David Watt, chief executive of Southampton-based Nobilis Homecare, said his carers put people to bed up to 10.30pm.
Mr Watt said: “We are unusual. We try to be responsive to what people want but our private client rates are higher than the county council is prepared to pay.”
“I think choice is massively important.
Council cost-cutting is reducing personalised care and choice as agencies have to provide care as cheaply as possible.
We prefer to employ more carers to give people what they want.”
Mr Watt said his company provided a minimum of 30 minutes care and chose not to bid for the council contract.
As reported yesterday, the council saved £4.9m in 2011-12 by capping the price it pays for social care.
County councillor Alan Dowden, Liberal Democrat opposition spokesman for adult social care, said: “I want more time spent with elderly people and for them to have more choice.
“If someone is being put to bed at 6.30pm or 7.30pm and they would prefer 10pm and there is an extra cost to that, well the council should allow that to happen.
“These elderly people deserve better and the public expects that because one day they could be in that position.”
The Baddesley councillor called for Tory county chiefs to use a £2.1m underspend in last year’s adult social care budget to improve the quality of services.
Chris Perry, director of Hampshire Age Concern, said: “It all comes down to money and the attitude of society in general to old people.
“Hampshire County Council is in a very difficult position. It gets less Government grant to provide services for older people than other areas because it is perceived to be affluent because of higher house prices.
“The quality and quantity of homecare is a national problem.”
A Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said Mr Lister would be contacted to help him get the care he needs. The spokesman added: “We all want to provide the best care for people that they need and deserve.”