A shocking report out of England today focuses more attention on the issue of elderly abuse. A London Daily Mail report indicates local authorities in England are looking into a web site that auctions off elderly people to nursing homes, where the facilities bid on the patients they want to receive.
The whole scheme has been derisively called a “cattle market” for grannies where nursing homes typically win the bid by being the lowest bid in terms of the amount of money they will spend to provide care for the resident.
Experts are criticizing the system as an awful E-bay style auction that is uncivilized and treats people as property to be bought and sold. The bidding is sometimes open for only a few hours, at other times it can last for two or three days and the cheapest offer often wins, the newspaper reports.
The report is not surprising given the lack of respect for the life of elderly people that assisted suicide and euthanasia produces and author Margaret Dore writes that legalized assisted suicide has led to increased cases of elder abuse in Washington and Oregon.
“Assisted suicide in Washington and Oregon is a recipe for elder abuse and cloaked in secrecy,” she writes.
“The Washington and Oregon acts require the state health departments to collect statistical information for the purpose of annual reports. According to these reports, users of assisted-suicide are overwhelmingly white and generally well-educated. Many have private insurance. Most are age 65 and older. Typically persons with these attributes are seniors with money, which would be the middle class and above, a group disproportionately at risk of financial abuse and exploitation,” Dore explained. “The forms used to collect the statistical information do not ask about abuse. Moreover, not even law enforcement is allowed to access information about a particular case.
Here’s more on the outrage in England:
Critics last night said the system was akin to ‘auctioning your granny’ and a ‘cattle market’, saying sensitive decisions about an elderly resident’s final years are being made by a computer programme that is only interested in costs.
It also means the patient or their family often does not see the care home, and that those running the home do not see the patient before they arrive.
One council has boasted of reducing care costs by almost a fifth using the system.
The auction-style process allows councils to circulate anonymised details of individuals to a large number of suppliers who then bid in an online auction for the contract.
As many as 100 providers can bid before the software produces a shortlist of the most favourable bids. Shortlisted bidders are then told where they are ranked in the process.
If they are in second position, they can adjust their bid – either by lowering the price or offering extra care services – so that they can move up to first.
Councils say quality is the first consideration, but figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request show 92 per cent of care packages commissioned on the system over a six-month period were awarded to the bidder with the lowest price, BBC 5 Live revealed.
Ros Altmann, a Government adviser and independent expert on care for the elderly, said: ‘These eBay-style sites highlight the funding crisis for elderly care. It is awful. The idea of bidding for a person is just uncivilised. These are not parcels, they are people.’
Janet Morrison, chief executive of the charity Independent Age, said: ‘Do we really want to treat older people as a “product” to be bought and sold this way? We are concerned that older people’s needs will lose out to price as the main reason for selecting a home.’
At least 12 councils use the auction-style systems. They include Kent County Council, Devon County Council, Southend Borough Council and Birmingham City Council. Dozens more are expected to follow suit.