Care for the Elderly crisis – capitalist barbarism at work

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WHEN workers pass the age at which their labour can be exploited for profit they become a useless burden on society as far as capitalism is concerned.

This is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the continuing slashing of government spending on care for the elderly and most vulnerable sections of society – cuts that have led to the obscenity of pensioners starving in their own homes when private home care providers have gone bust, while thousands have been kicked out of residential accommodation when the profit-hungry owners close up shop.

This conclusion was reinforced yesterday with the publication of a report compiled by the consumer rights organisation Which?, into the effects of government cuts in home care provision.

Home care, provided by private companies, in the past was extensively paid for by local councils.

According to Which?, the fees charged by these companies have shot up in the past five years by a staggering 160 per cent.

With local authority budgets from central government being cut to the bone, councils are resorting to rationing care provision for the elderly.

This has led to the situation where the number of authorities in England and Wales offering help with care for those assessed with ‘moderate needs’ has been halved.

Those who do not qualify for any council help are having to bear the cost of the entire increase, which in some cases has been from £5 an hour to £13, with the result that many are unable to pay and are forced to give up the lifeline of home care.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: ‘As the cost of care continues to rise, we fear that many older people will simply decide that they cannot afford care support and will struggle on alone with the possibility of a disastrous result.’

Already this year there has been a case where a woman in her 80s starved to death after being left alone at home when the care company employed to visit her was closed down.

The crisis in the residential homes sector is just as chronic.

Under the Thatcher Tory government, the drive was to close council-run homes and create a hugely profitable industry for the private care homes – many of which were part of large chains owned by private equity firms looking for massive profits.

These private companies expanded their empires through borrowing large amounts from the banks believing they were safe, in that their income would be guaranteed by council funding for residential care.

With cuts of over £2 billion to the adult social services budget by the government as it seeks to pay off the debts run up by the banks, these massive profits have disappeared and a record number of these companies have gone bust – last year 67 went out of business and over the past five years 250 have disappeared, while it is estimated that all of the remaining 10,000 are in serious financial problems and are likely to close down.

The effect of these closures is devastating.

When Southern Cross, owned by a private equity firm and the biggest residential home provider in Britain, collapsed in 2011, 30,000 vulnerable, elderly people were affected.

This is how capitalism works, exploit the working class while it is able to sell its ability to work and when, through old age or infirmity, it is no longer able to be exploited in this way, make money out of them through the ‘care’ industry.

When this proves difficult, just dump them on the scrapheap and let them starve while the banks and equity firms go off to seek other means of screwing profit out of the working class.

The only way to stop this abomination is through the socialist revolution that will place this barbaric capitalist system where it rightfully belongs – in the dustbin of history.