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Social Care News - Ninety vulnerable people die each day awaiting for social care

Posted on 31/12/2018 by

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NINETY sick and vulnerable people die every day while waiting for social care, figures reveal.

"People in need of care need action now."

She blamed government cuts, saying: "There is less money for social care - that means fewer packages, despite ever-growing demand.

"While Tory ministers delay a funding solution to this crisis by shelving publication of their unnecessary Green Paper, more vulnerable people will die waiting for vital care."

"People in need of care need action now"

Barbara Keeley

Sick and elderly people trapped in NHS wards due to lack of social care at home cost the NHS £289,140,954 a year, equivalent to £550 a minute.

Meanwhile the number of pensioners receiving social care, which is funded by local authorities, fell by more than 18 per cent in the past three years, despite increased demand.

The figures highlight the reality of the social care crisis with record numbers missing out on potentially life-saving help with tasks such as getting out of bed, eating, washing, wound care, taking medicine and dressing.

Age UK research found that between 2009/10 and 2016/17, average social care spending per adult fell by 13 per cent, from £439 to £379.

And an estimated 400,000 fewer older people received social care as the criteria for being eligible tightened amid insufficient resources.

The lack of resources is having a devastating impact, even on those who do receive a care package.

Many disabled and sick people wait hours for carers to help with daily needs and when they do arrive they often do not have enough time to carry out crucial and basic tasks.

We spoke to carers and charities and discovered cases of neglect, including: 

  • Frail and elderly people often being fed the same simple and quick-to-make foods every day, such as beans on toast or macaroni cheese, as carers do not have time to cook proper meals.

  • People are left sleeping most of the day and night in armchairs or on sofas because two carers are necessary to lift or hoist a disabled person to a bedroom and often only one - or none - is available.

  • Vulnerable elderly are not washed regularly. One woman in her 70s who had become paralysed down her right side did not have her hair washed for more than six months.

  • Frail and elderly people who need help to walk fall and hurt themselves when they try to take themselves to the toilet due to lengthy waits - sometimes leading to injury and hospital treatment.

  • A severely disabled 90-year-old man spent more than 18 hours in bed because there were not enough carers to look after him.

  • A woman in her early 90s did not have her infected ulcers dressed, which left her in agony. She was eventually admitted to hospital with sepsis after the infection spread to her blood.

Eileen Chubb, director and founder of the charity Compassion in Care, said: "Frail and elderly people are left in unsafe situations. Staff are asked to do the impossible in minimum time and it cannot be done.

"Can you imagine what it is like sitting in a chair, on your own, possibly in your own waste, thirsty or hungry, waiting hour after hour every day of your life for someone to come and give you a drink?

"And the carers who do care and blow the whistle are pushed out of their jobs for doing so.

"These people have contributed to society, paid taxes all their lives and they should be cared for."

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association's community wellbeing board, said: "The scale of the overall funding picture for local government as a whole means adult social care services still face a £3.5billion funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care.

"The likely consequences of this are more and more people being unable to get quality and reliable care and support, which enables them to live more fulfilling lives. Action is needed."

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: "The Government often says it has invested more in social care over the last two years, but it's not been nearly enough since the numbers of older people going without the support they need are continuing to rise - and quite sharply.

"If an older person needs social care but can't get it, this is a sure-fire recipe for them to become weaker and less well. They are at far greater risk of not eating enough and of falling and hurting themselves because of trying to do more than they really should.

"Their lives are likely to be diminished and made more miserable. Is this what we want for our parents and grandparents, husbands and wives, older neighbours and friends in 2018?" She added: "We all depend on the NHS so we all lose out if it has less money to spend due to the lack of social care.

"But it's our older population who are paying the highest price of all - with their health, their happiness and sometimes even their lives."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "The health and care system is working hard to ensure patients return home from hospital once their treatment has finished.

"And we have invested an extra £240million for councils to help reduce pressures on the NHS this winter by getting patients home quicker and freeing up hospital beds.

"We have provided local authorities with access to up to £3.6billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year and up to £3.9billion for next year, helping people to live independently for longer."

Ex-GP left to languish in hospital amid funds row

FORMER GP and mother of four Vigneswary Ramachandran, 82, from Morden, south London, was admitted to hospital following a stroke last April, which left her unable to speak, eat and paralysed down her right side.

Although deemed fit to be discharged from hospital in July, she could not leave due to an argument between her council and the local health authority over who was responsible for funding her care at home.

Her son, Rajkumar, 48, who gave up his job as a postman to look after his mother, enlisted the help of his MP, Siobhain McDonagh, to secure her hospital discharge.

After a series of letter exchanges, Mrs Ramachandran was released in August.

However, when she arrived home, her family discovered she still did not have the vital equipment she needed for home care, including a wheelchair and shower chair.

Two months later these were supplied after Ms McDonagh again intervened.

Mr Ramachandran carries out much of the daily tasks for his mother, such as helping her feed, wash, move and take her medication, because the three allocated daily carer visits - 45 minutes in the morning and two 30 minute slots in the afternoon - would not leave enough time to cover them.

"It can take over 45 minutes just to feed her, let alone keep her clean, do the shopping, wash her clothes and all the other things," Mr Ramachandran said.