Health and safety regulations are preventing carers carrying out simple tasks for the elderly such as changing light bulbs and washing curtains, a Birmingham City Council inquiry found.
Home helps refuse to visit shops, lend a hand with hairdressing or take clients out for a drive because formal risk assessments have not been carried out, according to the investigation by a scrutiny committee.
One diabetic woman told the inquiry council carers refused to wash her feet because “they did not know how to carry out the task correctly”.
Another woman said she had to demonstrate how to lift her mother out of a chair because a carer said she had not received appropriate training.
The committee’s review of services offered to elderly and vulnerable people criticised inflexible care plans.
The final report warned: “Service users said instead of home carers doing the same tasks every week, it would be helpful if they could do tasks such as changing curtains, replacing bulbs, shopping and a little gardening.”
When carers were interviewed by the committee, they insisted they were often unable to respond to requests for help.
“Service users ask home care workers to take them out in their car. Care workers explained even though they are insured, they are not allowed to take them out and added because of risk assessments, health and safety and care plans, they are not allowed to do a lot of things,” the report added.
The findings were published after the council announced it was going to scrap the £100 cap on weekly payments for people receiving home care.
Anyone with savings of more than £22,000 will have to pay the full cost of help.
The number of households receiving home care has fallen from 10,000 eight years ago to about 6,000 as the council has tightened rules governing entitlement to assistance. Private sector firms provide more than three-quarters of care in Birmingham for the council.
Elderly should be given more choice about the care package they get, according to the report.
“Most people are not only willing and capable but are actually the best person to assess their own care and support needs and decide how best to meet these needs. The choices may not be the same as the professional’s but that is the heart of enabling people to exercise choice,” the study found.
Scrutiny committee chairman Coun Len Clark (Con Quinton) said: “During their lifetime, most people will be involved with social care, whether as a recipient of care or as an organiser of a relative or friend’s care.
“This review strives to influence the way services are commissioned and provided so the individual can choose, and be in control, of the care and support they need.”