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Care crisis hits Second World War veterans

Published on 11 November 2012 01:30 PM

Age UK calls for funding and reform to end the distress and devastation caused by the chronic underfunding of social care.


As the country remembers the immense contribution made by those older people who fought and volunteered in the Second World War, Age UK reveals the human cost of a failing system of care and support for those people over the age of 85.

Survivors of the Second World War are now entering late old age, with two thirds of men and women over the age of 85 currently living with a disability or long standing illness. 1 in 4 people can expect to have a stroke if they live to 85 or over, while one third of people aged 95 or over have a form of dementia.

Yet it is this generation of veterans and volunteers - both men and women - who are now bearing the brunt of a crisis in social care, denied affordable and high quality care services that are necessary to maintain basic dignity, health and independence.

WWII veterans 'deserve so much better'

Since 2005/6 spending on older people's care first stagnated and then decreased between 2005-06 and 2011/12. Yet the number of people aged 85 and over has increased by 250,000 since 2004/5.

Age UK's charity director general Michelle Mitchell said, ‘The crisis in social care is resulting in devastating experiences for those older people who survived the Second World War and who deserve so much better.

'As the country pauses to honour the heroic generation who fought for Britain, who defended Britain in the Blitz and who kept the home fires burning, it is absolutely vital that we remember that many of these people are now struggling to get the high quality social care and support they need to live decently in old age.

‘Reform and funding of social care is now a moral and political imperative. Social care is not a luxury, it provides the essential support to help people carry out everyday tasks such as washing, eating, going to the toilet and leaving the house. The challenges facing those who need care cannot be understated.' 

Social care funding shortfall stands at half a billion pounds

Age UK's analysis at the beginning of 2012 showed that the combined impact of growing demand for services and a £341 million reduction in older people's social care budgets in 2011/12 has created a £500 million shortfall.

This crisis has far reaching consequences. Care services have been whittled to the bone, and costs of residential care have increased by 4.6% across England and up to 14% in certain parts of the South East including London. Meanwhile, local authority domiciliary care has been rationed to only those people with the most severe needs.

In 2011/12 nearly 80% of local authorities set their eligibility threshold for adult social care at ‘substantial' and a further 3 per cent set their threshold at ‘critical' meaning that hundreds of thousands of the poorest and frailest people are being denied state support to plan and pay for their essential care.

Age UK urges the Government to firstly recognise and act on the current funding crisis, while committing in next Comprehensive Spending Review to implementing a £35,000 cap on the lifetime cost of care. These twin steps are required alongside care reform to create a social care system that is fair, sustainable and fit for purpose.

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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