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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2008): Care of the elderly - UK

Abuse and neglect of older people in care homes and NHS wards

Q. Parker and R. Brown

Society Guardian, April 2nd 2008, p. 3

In anticipation of the publication of a government backed study into abuse and neglect of the elderly in care homes, the article comprises the views of experts in the field who make suggestions concerning how the government should react to the findings.

The ageing population: challenges for policy and practice

K. Caldwell, M. Saib and K. Coleman

Diversity in Health and Social Care, vol. 5, 2008, p. 11-18

There are concerns that politicians and planners have not reacted adequately to projected increases in numbers of elderly people in the UK, particularly the increase in the population aged over 85 years. Older people are the majority users of health and social care services, yet these services are not structured to best meet their needs. For effective services to be delivered to older people, we need to move away from viewing them as a problem, towards engaging with them to ensure that services are organised around their needs and considering them as a resource in terms of caring for themselves and others.

Always a last resort : inquiry into the prescription of antipsychotic drugs to people with dementia living in care homes

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia


Up to 105,000 people with dementia are being wrongly treated with powerful antipsychotic drugs to control their challenging behaviour. Research has shown that these medications have side effects which can accelerate mental decline, triple the risk of stroke and double the chances of premature death. The report calls for government action on the problem and urges the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to carry out a review.

Assisted dying: reflections on the need for law reform

S. McLean

Abingdon: Routledge, 2007

The book explores the law relating to euthanasia and assisted suicide, tracing its development from prohibition through to the laissez faire attitude adopted in a number of countries in the 21st Century. It provides an in-depth critique of the arguments surrounding legislative control of such practices and particularly looks into the regulatory role of the state. In the classical tradition of libertarianism, the state is generally presumed to have a remit to intervene where an individual's actions threaten another, rather than harm the individuals themselves. This arguably leaves a question mark over the state's determined intervention, in the UK and elsewhere, into the private and highly personal choices of individual to die rather than live. The perceived role of the state in safeguarding the moral values of the community and the need for third party involvement in assisted suicide and euthanasia could be thought to raise these practices to a different level. However, the book argues that the state's interests are and should be second to the interests that the people themselves have in choosing their own death.

Keep taking the medicine 4: the scandal of the inappropriate medication of older people in care

P. Burstow


Claims that up to 23,000 people with Alzheimerís disease could be dying prematurely in care homes every year after being given antipsychotic drugs to keep them quiet and manageable. Despite studies showing that these drugs can increase the risk of stroke and have other side effects, the government has failed to act to stem their use.

NHS chiefs opt for social insurance to fund elderly care

J. Carvel

The Guardian, Apr. 23 2008, p. 7

The NHS Confederation has said that the cost of looking after Britainís ageing population is expected to treble to about £30bn by 2026. At its upcoming conference the Confederation will recommend that the best way to cover costs would be the introduction of a social insurance scheme similar to that used in the Netherlands where people pay 12% of their income in contributions.

You canít complain Ö

L. Tickle

Community Care, Apr. 3rd 2008, p. 26-27

No independent complaints procedure is available for older people paying for their own care in privately run residential homes. They can only make a direct complaint to the provider. However, if their care home place is paid for by the council, older people can ask the local authority or the local government ombudsman to investigate problems. The government has now launched proposals for an independent adjudicator to rule on complaints against private homes by people who fund their own care, but there is no timetable for implementation.

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