There are 1.4 million older people in the UK struggling without the help they need. And with the NHS losing £500 a minute as unsatisfactory levels of home care result in an overreliance on hospital care, this situation is quickly reaching breaking point.
This perfect storm of underfunding, the unmet need of some 1.4 million people aged 65+, and declining access to care services will ensure we get to that point. Back in the March 2017 Budget (8 March), help appeared to be at hand when the Government said it would publish a Green Paper on social care – making a manifesto commitment to it in that year’s subsequent General Election.
Social care refers to helping people live their everyday lives, assisting in tasks we may take for granted, such as getting up in the morning, preparing meals and washing.
Since then, however, the date of publishing has been delayed six times. ‘Summer 2017’ became the ‘end of 2017’, which was soon changed to ‘Autumn 2018’, and so on – all while older people and their families across the country struggle without the help and support they so desperately need.
The danger of delays
At present, we’re told we can expect it “at the first opportunity in 2019”, supposedly before April. We hope so, because these delays have a damaging effect. For context, tomorrow (7 February) marks 700 days since the Green Paper was announced, and during that time the following has happened:
- 54,025 older people have died waiting for care to begin. That's 77 loved ones dying per day, around 3 every hour.
- 626,701 requests from older people left them unable to access the care system. That's 895 claims without formal care support every day.
- 7,240 older people have lost their homes and any savings through the cost of social care. That's 10 older people draining their savings every day.
- £476,939,017 has been wasted by the NHS through delayed discharge due to lack of social care. That's almost £500 wasted every minute.
- 1,263,844 older people have developed an unmet need, such as being able to wash or dress. That's 1,805 more people in need every day.
- 195,065 paid social care roles have become vacant. That's 279 jobs every day.
- 1,988,102 older people have become carers in the UK. That's 2,840 extra older people struggling every day.
Read the technical note below to see the sources for these figures.
So what do we do? You can start by reading more about the Care in Crisis campaign, and telling us how these issues have affected you, to add your voice to the many calling for progress. These include Scott, who says, ‘We are all getting older – would you want your loved ones to be forgotten?’ Or Mana, who recognises the social care system is ‘unsustainable in the future in its current state’.
We want to hear from you
Have you been affected by the delays in the Green Paper? If so, we'd like to hear from you, so your story can help illustrate this issue in need of urgent action.
Join the conversation
If you have thoughts on this topic, or similar experiences you'd like to share, get in touch on our social channels.