Social care system 'needs greater funding'
Published on 16 April 2012 12:30 PM
The NHS could face increased financial pressure as a result of a failing social care system, Age UK and the British Geriatrics Society have warned, while the health of older people could also be jeopardised.
According to the two groups, a greater number of vulnerable older people would remain healthy with the help of an appropriately funded social care system.
And the society's consultant geriatrician and social care lead, Ian Donald, says health crises could be avoided if the social care sector offered greater stability and enjoyed higher levels of funding.
He stated: 'As a specialist for older people's health working on an acute elderly care ward in a district general hospital, I see around 1,500 patients a year passing through my ward. Most are keen to return to their home, and their families are keen to resume caring for them.
'Very many suffer from dementia, and most are frail entering the last year or two of their lives. We try to make it our practice to meet the families within a day or so of their admission to our ward - and so often we hear a story of how they are all struggling to cope.
'Some have contacted social services for help and are on a waiting list because their needs are not yet judged to be urgent - sometimes it seems the only way to turn is to seek hospital admission, or more commonly wait for that crisis to occur which precipitates the emergency admission.
'Sometimes that crisis was just a fall, or simple infection, but it uncovers the struggle being endured at home. Other times the crisis is more serious - a pressure sore, fracture, or malnutrition - which could have been avoided if more timely assessment had been provided, with medical and social care working hand-in-hand.'
Age UK charity director general Michelle Mitchell added: 'Older people at the most physically vulnerable point in their lives are being catastrophically let down.
'Social care should provide the necessary support so that people can live in dignity, knowing they can depend on the help they need to wash, eat, and to have a meaningful existence.
'Instead, Age UK and the British Geriatrics Society are seeing a generation of very vulnerable people whose health is suffering because they are not getting enough care at home.'
Copyright Press Association 2012