The number of complaints made against the abuse and neglect of elderly and disabled residents living in care homes has increased by a shocking 13% since 2011, the Daily Mirror has reported today (10 July 2014).

Figures show that there has been around 109,000 investigations into alleged abuse and neglect cases in residential care homes since 2011. This comes after councils were asked to look into a significant rise in the number of complaints made against the treatment of elderly and disabled residents.

Most startling of all is the 43% of cases which have been ‘substantiated’, as well as the ten-fold increase in the number of calls being made by concerned friends and relatives to the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) whistleblower helpline.

The all-party Commons Public Accounts Committee’s report into ‘Adult Social Care in England’, says that elderly and disabled care home residents are not being given the level of care they deserve and has called for urgent improvements.

The PAC has also called for fairer pay and working conditions for staff, as well as the introduction of a new rating system for all care homes.

220,000 care workers in England earn less than the national minimum wage and a third are on highly controversial zero-hour contracts.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said:

“This very senior group of MPs is absolutely right to warn of the crisis facing social care.

“The Committee is right to draw attention to the low pay that care workers are receiving, with hundreds of thousands paid less than the minimum wage.

“We’ll never get the quality of care we all want to see for our loved ones so long as this goes on. The report says that Ministers just don’t understand the scale of the challenge.

“This is a wake-up call for them to stop burying their heads in the sand.”

The amount of money spent by councils on social care has fallen by 8% as they struggle to cope with mounting pressure on their finances, due to the government’s austerity measures. This is despite and marked increase in demand for local authority social care services.

Some experts fear that the demand on social care services may increase yet further with the imminent closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). A fund that, as the government’s own website says, “delivers financial support to disabled people so they can choose to live in their communities rather than in residential care”.

A Department of Health spokesperson told the Daily Mirror:

“We are working with councils to ensure they work with providers that have fair pay and terms and conditions for staff.”