Entering old age “should not involve waving goodbye to one’s dignity,” the Health Secretary has said as he called for families to look at how they treat elderly people.
Jeremy Hunt told delegates at the National Children and Adults Services (NCAS) conference this week there is a collective “national shame” in ignoring the emotional needs of people in care homes or isolated in their own homes.
He said: “According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, there are 800,000 people in England who are chronically lonely.
“Some five million people say television is their main form of company - that’s 10% of the population.
“We know there is a broader problem of loneliness that in our busy lives we have utterly failed to confront as a society.
“Each and every lonely person has someone who could visit them and offer companionship.
“A forgotten million who live amongst us - ignored to our national shame.”
Mr Hunt yold delegates that 112,000 cases of alleged abuse were referred by English councils in 2012/13, the majority involving over-65s.
Mr Hunt said new Chief Inspector of Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, will act as a champion of the people who use the services - the nation’s whistleblower-in-chief.”
Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said: “A seismic shift is needed in attitudes towards older people and ageing in this country.