The Government is being urged to take urgent action to tackle "severe" staff shortages in residential care homes after a study found elderly and vulnerable people are being denied trips to the toilet and kept indoors for days on end.
A survey of 1,000 staff by Unison found that four out of five said they are so rushed they are compromising the dignity and well-being of the people they look after.
Most of the staff, working in private and local authority care homes across the UK, said they regularly work through their breaks.
The union said its research revealed a "worrying picture" of residents being denied the most basic levels of care.
Nine in 10 care workers said a lack of staff was to blame, with more than a quarter not having the time to help elderly people eat and drink.
Care workers reported often being too busy to take people to the toilet or notice if a resident's health has deteriorated.
They were rarely able to stop for a brief chat with the people they look after or take them outside for some fresh air.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "The care system is failing the elderly and the vulnerable and those staff struggling to provide the best support possible.
"Significant change needs to happen if respect and dignity are to be restored and standards improved in care homes.
"Elderly people should expect the best possible care, whether they are being looked after in their own accommodation, or in a care home.
"It's shocking that some care home owners are being allowed to look after people when they don't have enough staff to deliver quality care.
"The Government must act now to fund social care properly and protect the most vulnerable in society."