Government rapped for care of elderly peoplePoll finds two in three want more focus on OAPs

09 May 2008

A walking stick held in someone's hands

The government has been condemned by a leading charity for its treatment of the elderly.

Figures revealed by Help the Aged show that almost two-thirds of the population believes the government does not take seriously pensioners' needs, and that this attitude has fuelled a sense of fear and rejection in both the old and the young.

The charity has challenged the government to end the 'mockery' of old people, and is pushing for an outright ban on all forms of age discrimination.

Care home ratings

The call comes as the government unveils a new ratings system for care homes in England, which charity Age Concern said did not place enough emphasis on whether residents were treated with respect.

Research showed that three in five adults thought the older people get, the worse they were treated by society.

And the same number of younger people - especially those aged between 25 and 45 - were worried about how they would be treated when they hit retirement age.

Help the Aged

Help the Aged spokesman Kate Jopling said legislation should be introduced to put ageism on an equal footing with racism and sexism.

She said: 'Despite millions of older people being subjected to ageist attitudes and practices each day, the government doesn't seem to think age discrimination is a big deal.

'While it deliberates over whether or not to introduce legislation, older people can be denied access to the marketplace, insurance and banking facilities - even medical treatment because they are deemed "too old".

'In an increasingly ageing society, this is a moral outrage.

'The lack of legislation against age discrimination in our society makes a mockery of older people. To continue to ignore ageism is to accept it.'

Outlaw

She said Harriet Harman and other cabinet ministers had the power to outlaw age discrimination.

'The public are overwhelmingly supportive of legislation - it remains to be seen whether the government is listening.'

The Help the Aged survey, published today, showed the equivalent of 35 million adults (74% of survey respondents) thought age discrimination should be outlawed completely.

Equality Bill

As part of its 'Just Equal Treatment' campaign, the charity has pushed for the forthcoming Equality Bill to include proposals for legislation against age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services - including health and social care services.

In addition to new legislation against age discrimination being introduced in the Equality Bill, Help the Aged also wants the public sector equality duty extended to include age so older people's needs are taken into account in public services.

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