Age UK has today (6 March) published a damning report which shows the disastrous depths that the crisis in care has reached, and its distressing human cost.
The evidence and analysis set out in the report 'Care in Crisis 2014' highlights the extent of the problems with social care and support for older people in England today.
Key findings include:
Despite rising demand, the amount spent on social care services for older people has dropped by a massive £1.2 billion (15.4 per cent) since 2010. Since then, to help compensate for substantial wider cuts in local government budgets, £438m was transferred from the NHS budget to local authorities. However, this still leaves a shortfall of £769 million, even if every penny was spent on social care, which is unclear.
Access to publicly funded social care has become more and more restricted with the vast majority (87 per cent) of local authorities now only able to provide help if the person's needs have been assessed as being 'substantial' or above.
Many older people who struggle with everyday tasks such as getting up in the morning, bathing, preparing meals or doing the shopping are assessed as only having 'low' or 'moderate' needs and so do not get any help.
Alzheimer's Society comment:
'Cuts to local authority budgets and restrictive eligibility criteria are failing thousands of people with dementia, leaving them and their families in crisis struggling to cope with the day-to-day pressures of living with the condition. Unable to access appropriate care in the community, many people with dementia are forced in to hospital by default not choice – adding pressure to a system at breaking point.
'If addressing the historic shortfall in social care funding does not become a priority for all political parties, we risk undermining the positive measures in the Care Bill. The elephant in the room can no longer be sidestepped.'