Social care has become “invisible” to too many vulnerable older people as a result of government underfunding, leaders from the health and social care sectors have said in the wake of warnings in a major charity report.
Responding to the Age UK report, which warned that the social care system was on the verge of collapse in some areas, charities and stakeholder groups stepped up their calls for the government to stump up more funding for the sector in next month’s Budget statement.
“The case for more social care funding is immediate and unanswerable”
NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said more money was urgently needed to address the suffering of those not receiving adequate support.
He said: “The evidence is overwhelming – vast numbers of older people with lots of different health conditions now find themselves in crisis because the system cannot cope.
“For too many of them, social care has gone from being a limited service to an invisible one,” he said. “The case for more social care funding is immediate and unanswerable to relieve pressure on the NHS and relieve the suffering of those affected.”
Mr Dickson added that long term solutions to such problems were not just financial, and said the health and care system “needed to be redesigned” through better integration.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services described the report’s findings as “worrying, yet unsurprising”. ADASS president-elect Margaret Willcox said: “Only genuine new money will solve the crisis which will only get worse while we wait for a solution.
“Until this time, more older and disabled people will not get the dignified support they rely upon, an even greater toll will be placed on the 6.5 million family members and other carers, increasing pressures will be placed on our hospitals and even more care homes will close, leading to growing gaps and failures in the care market,” she said.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “The report highlights again the crisis in social care, leaving vulnerable people - not least those with dementia and their carers - without support. Now is the time for action, before more lives are damaged.”
The Age UK report, published today and titled The Health and Care of Older People in England 2017, found the number of older people who did not receive the support they needed for basic daily activities was continuing to grow, with one in eight now living with unmet need.
There were now nearly 1.2 million people aged 65 or over who did not receive the care and support they needed with essential daily living activities, representing a 17.9% increase on last year and a 48% increase since 2010, said the report.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “The government has tried to prop up older people’s social care in three ways: through financial transfers from the NHS, a social care precept in local areas, and by calling on families and friends to do more.
“Unfortunately our analysis shows there are problems with all three approaches, which in any event are not enough to make up for the chronic shortfall in public funds,” she added.