More older people than ever are missing out on the vital care and support they need, and delayed hospital discharges due to a lack of social are costing the NHS a staggering £500 a minute, new analysis by Age UK has highlighted.
In just two years, the number of older people living with an unmet care need has risen by 19% to nearly 1 in 7 older people.
Of the 1.4 million older people affected, more than 300,000 need help with three or more essential everyday tasks, like getting out of bed, going to the toilet or getting dressed. More than half of these people get no help at all from paid carers, family members or friends.
“Our new analysis echoes what we hear all round the country: it is getting ever harder to access care if you need it and increasing numbers of frail, ill older people are being left to manage alone,” says Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director. “If an older person needs social care but can’t get it this is a surefire recipe for them to become weaker and less well. They are at far greater risk of not eating enough and of falling and hurting themselves because of trying to do more than they really should. And it goes without saying that their lives are likely to be diminished and made more miserable.
“Is this what we want for our parents and grandparents, husbands and wives, older neighbours and friends in 2018?”
Meanwhile, Age UK’s analysis also found that delayed discharges from hospital due to a lack of social care are now costing the NHS more than £500 a minute.
“These numbers show the folly and sheer wastefulness of the Government’s failure to invest anything like enough money in social care,” said Caroline. “We all depend on the NHS so we all lose out if it has less money to spend due to the lack of social care, but there is no doubt that it’s our older population who are paying the highest price of all – with their health, their happiness and sometimes even their lives.
“The numbers of delayed discharges due to a lack of social care are actually going down, but lack of social care still costs the NHS an eye-watering £500 every minute – not to mention undermining the chances of older people making a full recovery if they are unnecessarily stuck in hospital for weeks or longer. At a time when the Government says we need to spend public money carefully, it makes no sense to fritter it away in this way.
“It’s high time the Government saw Health and Care as one whole system and provided the resources needed by both.”