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'Borrowed time' to save social care system from collapse

Published on 16 February 2017 12:01 AM

A new report from Age UK has concluded that we are living on borrowed time to save the social care system for older people.

  • Statistics in the report highlight the immense challenges facing older people needing support, with 1 in 8 over 65s now living with unmet care needs
  • Failing care system has created a major burden for hospitals and family members
  • Age UK demands that the Government commits funds in the Spring Budget to avoid ‘imminent danger'

Immense challenges for social care

The report, ‘The Health and Care of Older People in England 2017' draws on new statistics as well as new Age UK analysis.

It demonstrates 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 the NHS.

The Health and Care of Older People in England 2017 (2MB)

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More and more people with complex unmet care needs

There are now nearly 1.2 million people aged 65+ who don't receive the care and support they need with essential daily living activities. This represents 1 in 8 older people in the entire population: a 17.9 per cent increase on last year and a 48 per cent increase since 2010.

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.

Increased pressure on hospitals and carers

The social care crisis described in the report is also creating a significant burden for other forms of support.

People are waiting longer to be discharged from hospital, putting more pressure on hospital resources and capacity and leading to increased spending. Waits for residential care have also increased.

More people are also providing unpaid care for a loved one, especially older people themselves. People are also caring at greater levels of intensity than in the past and meeting increasingly complex needs. There are now over two million carers aged 65 and over, yet nearly two thirds of these carers have a health condition or disability themselves.

"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."  - Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK

Age UK calls for change

We are calling on Government to:

1. Recognise the imminent danger which social care is now in and commit to an urgent injection of funds in the Spring Budget.

2.  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.

This will engage the public in the important question of how we pay for a decent care system we can all rely on when we need it.

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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