Help line Thousands of people live in Care Homes throughout Britain and for most people this is pleasant experience. However, some people become victims of abuse and neglect, which can go unnoticed and unreported.

This is why care provider Southern Cross is offering a new helpline to residents in all of its 735 care homes in the UK.

The helpline which has been set up for residents or their relatives, to report cases of neglect is the first scheme of its kind, and the company is the only major care provider offering such a service.

The helpline is staffed by trained advisors from the charity Action on Elder Abuse, which means they will not need the permission of Southern Cross to alert authorities to any problems, as they are entirely independent.

Chief executive, Gary Fitzgerald of Action on Elder Abuse hopes other major providers of care homes might follow this lead.

"We hope this initiative provides an influence for the whole sector to seriously tackle issues of abuse… We recognise how difficult it can be for residents and their families to raise issues of abuse and neglect. This service will tackle many of those barriers, making it easier to report abuse in the knowledge that a response will be achieved."

The charity already has a national free phone helpline offering confidential advice to anyone concerned about abuse of the elderly. This latest project with Southern Cross will run alongside, and the success of the helpline will be reviewed in a year.