Fewer older people receiving social care
Published on 26 March 2014 01:00 PM
The number of older people receiving social care in England has fallen by a quarter over the last 3 years.
A new report from the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation reveals that 245,855 fewer individuals aged 65 or over were getting free social care in the community in 2012/13 compared with 2009/10 - a fall of 26%.
Home and day care spending by councils across the country also contracted, down by 23% - or £538 million - during the same period.
Government and the NHS 'flying blind'
Authors of the study claim the Government and the NHS are 'flying blind' in planning services for vulnerable older people because there is no way of assessing the impact that social care cuts are having on health and wellbeing.
They warn that even those still receiving help may be at risk of poor quality care due to staff shortages, high staff turnover or reduced contact hours.
The figures also show that the number of older people receiving meals delivered to their home has dropped by 59% - or 54,795 - since 2009/10, while funding for these meals has fallen by 46% at the same time.
The number of individuals receiving 10 or more hours of care and overnight care remained constant between 2009/10 and 2012/13, yet around 42% fewer people received the 'lower-intensity' level of care.
‘Increased rationing' of social care
Holly Holder, report lead author and fellow in health policy at the Nuffield Trust, is worried by the findings.
'Our analysis paints a picture of increased rationing of social care by hard-pressed local authorities in response to deep cuts from central government, despite the growing numbers of older people in the population,' she said.
'It is highly likely that this is having a negative effect on older people's health and wellbeing and that of their carers, but without adequate data to assess this impact, the NHS and Government are flying blind when it comes to managing demand and planning for the future.'
The study follows a report from the National Audit Office earlier this month which found that most of the 'significant' drop in spending on social care has come from cuts to services, particularly for older people.
Social care funding has failed
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK says:
‘This is the latest of a succession of reports laying bare the true scale of the crisis in care.
‘Care is increasingly being restricted to people who are at substantial or critical risk of a major crisis. Older people who need care to be able to live with dignity are being left high and dry by retreating State provision.
‘The core of the problem is that social care funding has completely failed to keep up with growing demand. Legislative reform is vital but it won't make any practical difference unless the Government puts sufficient funding in place.'
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