Day to day tasks that many of us take for granted – like getting dressed, using the toilet, making a meal, or getting to the shops – can be almost impossible for many older people without help. Older people should be able to live well, not just survive, and the right care and support can help them do this.
Right now, more than 1 million older people are left to struggle by each day without any support. And this number is growing all the time.
This is a silent disgrace that is being repeated up and down the country, in each town and city, on every street.
Ferocious cuts to funding for care at home mean that many older people are sacrificing their dignity because they can’t get the support they need.
This is because unlike your GP or local hospital, services to help people stay safe and independent at home are mainly arranged by local councils, whose budgets have been severely cut.
Spending on services like home carers, meals on wheels, and day care has dropped by more than £1 billion in the last five years.
This is having a huge knock-on effect on the NHS, where each year more and more older people are finding themselves trapped in hospital for days or even weeks, despite being well enough to leave, simply because there isn’t support available for them in their community.
The numbers don’t add up. And with an ageing population the problem will only get worse unless we, all of us, act to change things.
Earlier in 2015, the Government announced it was not going to implement the lifetime cap on care costs, which would have cost around £6bn to implement. Age UK reluctantly agreed this was the right approach, but only if that £6bm is re-invested in the social care system.
More than 53,000 of you signed our Don't Cut Care petition, calling on the Chancellor to urgently invest in care for older people as part of the 2015 Spending Review. This sent a massive signal to the Government that care for older people matters.
As a result the Chancellor laid out plans to allow local authorities to raise income for social care by increasing council tax, and also extra money for a joint fund between the NHS and councils known as the Better Care Fund. Together, this could raise up to £3.5bn for social care by the end of 2018.
There is some good news here, but sadly things are not that simple. While it is a big success that social care was explicitly mentioned in the review we are highly concerned that the extra money will barely plug the gap that already exists in social care funding. Even if every council raises their council tax the extra funding won’t cover the demands of an ageing population. Alongside that the National Living Wage, which came into force in April, will place even more strain on a system that is teetering on the edge of collapse.
This means the campaign doesn’t end here and we will continue to work hard to ensure the social care system works for older people. We’ll update these pages with the next steps for the campaign soon.