Thursday, 23 February 2017

Age UK Fear Social Care System is on The Verge of Collapse

A new report from Age UK concludes that the social care system is living on borrowed time and is on the verge of collapse.

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

The report suggests that however tough things are now, they threaten to get a lot worse over the next few years, and concludes that the government’s strategy for keeping the social care system from falling apart is failing, putting the whole system at risk of complete collapse.

The Charity is calling on government to recognise the imminent danger which social care is now in and commit to an urgent injection of funds in the Spring Budget. Their report also calls on the government to 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, and that engages the public on the important question of how we pay for a decent care system we can all rely on when we need it.

Key findings in the report include:
  • There are now nearly 1.2 million people aged 65+ who don’t receive the care support they need with essential daily living activities (a 17.9% increase year on year).
  • There has been a £160 million cut in total public spending in real terms on older people’s social care in the five years to 2015/16, despite the rapidly rising demand due to our ageing population.
  • By 2020/21 public spending on social care would need to increase by a minimum of £1.65 billion to £9.99 billion in order to manage the impact of future demographic and unit cost pressures – not to improve services but to stay where we are now.
  • Funding promised to ease the crisis, through the Better Care Fund, is heavily ‘back loaded’, with the full £1.4 billion only becoming available in 2019/20.
  • People are caring for friends and relatives at greater levels of intensity than in the past and meeting increasingly complex needs.
  • There are over two million carers aged 65 and over, 417,000 of whom are aged 80 and over. 
  • In 2015/16 48 councils reported dealing with at least one home care provider who had ceased trading; 59 councils reported at least one provider ‘handing back’ a contract, and two of the largest national home care providers also left the council market.
  • 77 councils reported dealing with at least one care home which had ceased trading in their area in 2015/16, and 31 councils reported at least one provider ‘handing back’ a contract over the same period.
  • In 2015/16 the overall staff vacancy rate in the social care sector was 6.8 per cent, rising to 11.4 per cent for home care staff.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director said “Our new report makes for frightening reading because it shows just how fragile older people’s social care now is. Even worse, unless something changes the crisis will certainly deepen this year and next, and we think there is now a real risk of a complete collapse in social care in the worst affected areas. If this happened it would be a disaster that would threaten the health and even the lives of the older people affected. It would also greatly intensify pressures on our hospitals.”

“We urge the Government to make an emergency injection of funds into social care in the Spring Budget to stave off the risk of complete collapse. But even that’s not enough: the Government must also get on with developing a long term solution to the care crisis.”

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