Older People Left to “Struggle Alone” Says Age UK After Social Care Research
Hundreds of thousands of older people who need daily help are being left “high and dry” and to “struggle on their own,” Age UK has said after completing research into state-funded social care in Britain.
The charity has conducted research which shows numbers of older people getting help from social care in the UK has fallen from one million three years ago to 850,000 last year.
Charity Age UK has published a social care ‘score card’ which shows despite rising demand from growing numbers of people in need of support, the amount spent on social care services for older people in Britain has fallen by £1.1bn since 2010-11, and by a total of £1.4bn since 2005-6. Age UK said this is even after accounting for additional funding from the NHS.
Age UK said that back in 2005-6, 15.3% of all people aged 65 and over received social care. By 2010-11 that number had dropped to 12.4% and today just 9.1% of older people (849,280) receive any support. In total this now represents a reduction of more than 40% over that period.
Research from the charity has already shown there are 900,000 older people between 65 and 89 who have unmet needs for social care, but all care services for older people have been hit incredibly hard.
“Stark Reality – Older People Battle Alone”
Age UK found between 2010-11 and 2013-14:
- Older people receiving home care has fallen by 31.7% to 370,630.
- Day care places have plummeted by 66.9% to 59,125.
- Numbers of older people who receive vital equipment and adaptations to help remain safely at home has dropped by 41.6%.
- Numbers receiving meals on wheels has plunged by 63.7% to 29,560.
- Spend on home care has dropped since 2010-11 by 19.4%.
- Spend on day care has fallen even more dramatically by 30%.
Age UK said the “stark reality is that each and every day hundreds of thousands of older people are left to battle on alone.” Of this, nearly a third of older people who have difficulty in carrying out some essential activities of daily life do not receive any formal help. The charity said this means:
- Half a million of older people who struggle to wash/get in the bath do not receive any help.
- One in three of those who find it difficult to go to the toilet do not receive any help.
- One in three of those who find it hard to get out of bed on their own do not receive any help.
- Four in five of those who need help taking their medication do not receive any help.
- Over two thirds of those who find it hard to eat on their own do not receive any help.
- Over two fifths of those who find it difficult to get dressed do not receive any help.
Social Care in “Rapid Decline”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said the “devastating” figures show the UK’s funded social care system is in “rapid decline.”
“This devastating scorecard speaks for itself and it lays bare the fact that our state-funded social care system is in calamitous, quite rapid decline,” she said.
“Hundreds of thousands of older people who need social care are being left high and dry. The lucky ones have sufficient funds to buy in some support, or can rely on the goodwill of family, neighbours and friends. But there are many who are being left to struggle on entirely alone.
Abrahams said the figures acknowledge there is “need for investment” in the NHS and that policymakers “owe it older people to confront the crisis in social care and its consequences.”
“Until recently the impact of the decline in social care has been relatively hidden, but social care is a crucial pressure valve for the NHS and the evidence of what happens when it is too weak to fulfil that function is clear for us all to see.
“Above all, this scorecard makes clear that for any policymaker to acknowledge the need for investment in the NHS while omitting to mention social care is not good enough and will ultimately not solve the problems facing the NHS either.”