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A million older people 'badly let down' by lack of social care funding

Posted on 9/07/2018 by David Burgess

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Analysis by AgeUK finds one in seven older people in England left to get by on their own

The number of older people in England without social care support has hit a record high, with one in seven now being left to get by on their own, figures reveal.

A record total of 1.4 million people over 65 now have some level of unmet need with tasks such as getting up, washed and dressed, according to an analysis of official statistics by AgeUK.

“Older people around the country are being very badly let down by the catastrophic lack of government funding for social care,” said Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director.

“Our new analysis echoes what we hear all around the country: it is getting ever harder to access care if you need it and increasing numbers of frail, ill, older people are being left to manage alone.

“It is profoundly shocking that 1.4 million older people, one in seven of the entire older population, now has some degree of unmet need, and the numbers are rising quite fast.”

At the same time, delayed discharges – patients trapped in hospital because social care is unavailable to allow them to be discharged – now costs the NHS in England £289.1m a year, Age UK estimates.

The figures come a week after Sir Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, warned in a Guardian interview that cuts to social care were “tipping people” into needing NHS care.

He urged ministers to significantly increase spending on social care. “I cannot see that the amount being spent on social care – which is now less than it was, and with other signs of pressure in that system – I can’t see that that can be sustainable,” Morse said.

David Behan, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, which regulates health and social care, also added his voice to those seeking an urgent change of tack. He said that Theresa May should demonstrate the courage Clement Attlee showed in setting up the NHS in 1948 in her efforts to hugely improve support for older people, which is so threadbare that Britain is not the “civilised society” it should be.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “No one should be stuck in hospital when their treatment has finished. We expect the NHS to work closely with local authorities to ensure people are treated in the most suitable setting and when they are discharged from hospital they have a care plan in place.

“The government has committed to a long-term plan with a sustainable multi-year settlement for the NHS to help it manage growing patient demand. Health and social care are two sides of the same coin and reforms must be aligned. That’s why our forthcoming green paper will be published in the autumn alongside the NHS plan.”

Source: TheGuardian