Neglect is any kind of care that is not good enough. Everyone who needs care deserves to be looked after properly. When care is poor or doesn’t meet generally accepted standards, it amounts to neglect.

What is neglect?

Neglect includes ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs and failing to provide appropriate health, care and support or educational services for someone. This includes withholding the necessities of life such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Organisations that deliver care such as care homes, hospitals and care homes have to meet fundamental standards of care set by the Care Quality Commission.

What are the signs of neglect to look out for?

  • the person looks dirty
  • the person is hungry, underfed or losing weight
  • the person is thirsty or dehydrated
  • the person has untreated medical problems
  • the person has bed sores
  • the place where they live (home, care home or hospital) is dangerously cluttered, untidy or unhygienic
  • the person’s home is not heated properly
  • the person is not being given their medication
  • the carers fail to follow medical advice, for example to use pressure-relieving cushions

Why does neglect happen?

Generally, neglect happens because either the carer doesn’t know how to care for someone properly, or the carer is overwhelmed by their caring responsibilities and can’t cope. Occasionally, neglect is deliberate. This is known as ‘wilful neglect’. Wilful neglect is a crime.

What can be done about neglect?

There are many different ways of dealing with neglect. Doing something about it depends on the cause of the neglect. If poor care is caused by lack of understanding or knowledge about how to care properly, we can arrange for advice and training. For example, a community nurse could give a family carer advice and support on how to prevent pressure sores from developing.

If care staff deliver poor care, this can be improved by mentoring, staff training and disciplinary actions.

If an unpaid carer is overwhelmed by their caring role, we will offer a carers’ assessment to see what support would best suit their situation and help them to care better in the future.

I’m worried about someone. What should I do?

If you are worried that someone is not being looked after properly in their own home, a care home or a hospital please get in touch with our Access and Advice Service. It takes courage to speak up about poor care, but by doing so you will help to keep someone safe.

Everyone deserves to be cared for with kindness and compassion. Sometimes things go wrong with someone’s care and telling us is the right thing to do. You can call Islington Access and Advice Service (Adult Social Services) on 020 7527 2299. You can also email or use Minicom: 020 7527 6475.

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