Older people are not getting the homecare they need

“How can you deliver high quality care when you are given such a short time to do all this? You have to get your ‘client’ up, assist with washing, baths, drying, dressing, empty commodes, urine bottles, assist or administer creams and medication, prepare a meal and drink, make beds, wash up, do any household jobs that need doing before recording your work, interacting with the person you’re looking after and then making sure they’re safe and secure before you leave.”

Alice* loves being a homecare worker but she gets frustrated because she isn’t given enough time with her clients. At UNISON we frequently receive messages like this, from homecare workers who are struggling because they’re not given enough time with their clients, and feel guilty about it.

When homecare workers like Alice have to rush, it means their clients lose out on getting all the support they need. And recent data from the Health Survey for England shows that many over 65-year-olds are not getting help with specific tasks.

The survey shows that over a fifth (22%) of over 65-year-olds in England have needed help with one of the following tasks but did not receive it:

    • Getting up and down stairs
    • Having a bath or a shower
    • Dressing or undressing
    • Getting around indoors
    • Getting in and out of bed
    • Taking medicine
    • Eating, including cutting up food
    • Using the toilet
    • Washing face and hands.

Getting up and down stairs was by far the task that most people needed help with but did not receive. For the oldest age group, over 85, 41% needed help getting up the stairs but did not receive it.

How are these statistics calculated?

This information is collected as part of the Health Survey for England (HSE), an annual survey that looks at changes in the health and lifestyles of people all over the country.
Around 8,000 adults and 2,000 children take part in the survey each year. Information is collected through an interview, and if participants agree, a visit from a specially trained nurse.
The surveys have been carried out since 1991 and provide regular information that cannot be obtained from other sources.

See the breakdown by age group

*Alice is not her real name. Many homecare workers feel they cannot criticise their employer publicly because they could be at risk of losing their job.