DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT HERE – The_Health_and_Care_of_Older_People_in_England_2016
A new report from Age UK concludes that we are living on borrowed time in saving social care for older people from complete collapse. The report, The Health and Care of Older People in England 2017 draws on official statistics, as well as new Age UK analysis.
It builds on Age UK’s previous work and highlights the immense challenges facing older people who need care, the numbers of whom increase every day, and the impact of the failure to provide it on their health and wellbeing, as well as on the NHS.
Worryingly, the report suggests that however tough things are now, they threaten to get a lot worse over the next few years for a number of reasons which the report details. The report also examines the Government’s strategy for keeping the social care system from totally falling apart and concludes that it is not up to the job and is failing. Unless something changes, the Charity says there is a genuine risk of social care completely collapsing in the worst affected areas this year or next.
The Charity is calling on Government to recognise the imminent danger which social care is now in and commit to an urgent injection of funds in the Spring Budget. It also calls on the Government to lead a process for developing a long-term solution to the care crisis that incorporates the views of older and disabled people and all parts of the health and care sector, and that engages the public in the important question of how we pay for a decent care system we can all rely on when we need it.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director said, ‘Our new report makes for frightening reading because it shows just how fragile older people’s social care now is. Even worse, unless something changes the crisis will certainly deepen this year and next, and we think there is now a real risk of a complete collapse in social care in the worst affected areas. If this happened it would be a disaster that would threaten the health and even the lives of the older people affected. It would also greatly intensify pressures on our hospitals.
‘Some older people and their families are already telling us that they simply cannot find any carers where they live, and we are also hearing of vulnerable older people receiving council-funded care whose help has been significantly reduced, leaving them to manage alone for many hours at a time.
‘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: the NHS is now under such financial pressure that it can’t keep bailing out social care; the amount the social care precept can raise doesn’t match the needs in an area – with the poorest places at great risk of losing out; and new Age UK analysis shows that the numbers of families and friends coming forward to care are not keeping pace with a rising ageing population.
‘What’s more, two million of those who care for a family member or friend in our country are themselves older people, often with their own health problems. And astonishingly, more than a hundred thousand people in their eighties and beyond are caring full-time. At Age UK, we believe that we are asking too much of these wonderful older people who may well be jeopardising their own health through their dedication to the person they love – they need more support.
‘This is an incredibly serious situation that demands an immediate Government response. We urge the Government to make an emergency injection of funds into social care in the Spring Budget to stave off the risk of complete collapse. But even that’s not enough: the Government must also get on with developing a long-term solution to the care crisis and listen to older and disabled people and all parts of the health and care sector about what is required. This process cannot happen behind closed doors in Whitehall: we must also engage the public in the important question of how we pay for a decent care system we can put our faith in if we or someone we love needs it.’