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Author: Age Scotland
Published on 24 April 2017 10:30 AM

Charity also reveals most Scots don't believe public services will be able to meet their care needs in later life

Today Age Scotland has released details of research which show that thousands of older people are missing out on free personal care payments because of delays in assessing and arranging care. As a result of data supplied by councils to the charity through Freedom of Information, the charity has found around four thousand older people are waiting longer than six weeks for a financial assessment. Some were waiting several months, and in one case someone waited almost two years for care to be arranged following their assessment.

The charity, which is highlighting pressures on health and social care in its manifesto for the local authority elections, also released figures which show that most Scots don't believe we invest enough in health and social care, or that public services will be able to provide their care needs in the future. Polling conducted for the charity by YouGov found that 73 percent of people do not believe society values or invests enough in social care. It also found that only 17 percent believed that public services will be able to look after their care needs when they are older.

From the 25 responses received from the 32 Scottish local authorities, Age Scotland found that:

  • Older people often wait several months for a care assessment. FOI responses revealed that most councils conduct assessments within an average of 2½ weeks, but the average worst case scenario was 5 months and 2 weeks – and in one instance one client waited over 18 months
  • After assessment, services should be arranged and in place within six weeks, according to national eligibility criteria. But three-quarters of councils who responded had one or more people who waited more than six-weeks, and on average 5% of older people with care needs were waiting longer than they should equating to around 3,940 older people in Scotland
  • Most councils don’t record the reasons why delays occur. Many cite instances where delays are caused by the person being admitted to hospital or waiting for a place in their chosen care home. But staff shortages, financial constraints and delays in adapting people’s homes have also been cited.

Responding to the findings Age Scotland's Chief Executive Keith Robson said:

"These are deeply concerning figures showing thousands of older people facing delays in the care provision they need being put in place. It also means payments for free personal care they are entitled to not being received. This confirms the experiences of a number of older people and their families who have been in touch with Age Scotland's Helpline to tell us their experiences of delays in the system.

"As we look to local authority elections next month Age Scotland has contacted council candidates across Scotland to ask them to ensure providing high quality health and social care services is made an urgent priority by new administrations. Free personal care has been one of the landmark policy initiatives in Scotland following devolution, and that is why we are calling on all levels of government to ensure the system works as it was intended.

"Our research has also found that most Scots do not believe that as a society we invest enough in health and social care, or are confident public services will provide for their care needs in later life. This shows the levels of concern which exist around current provision of care services, and why as a society we must all work to ensure our health and social care system has the support and investment it needs. We want everyone in Scotland to be confident they will receive high quality care when they need it in later life, and that is what we must work to achieve.'

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