Age UK today publishes a social care ‘score card’ that shows despite rising demand from growing numbers of people in need of support, the amount spent on social care services for older people has fallen nationally by £1.1 billion (14.4 per cent) since 2010/11, even after accounting for additional funding from the NHS, and by a total of £1.4 billion (17.7 per cent) since 2005/6.
In 2005/6 15.3 per cent of all people aged 65 and over (1,230,625) received social care. By 2010/11 that number had dropped to 12.4 per cent and today just 9.1 per cent of older people (849,280) receive any support. In total this now represents a reduction of over 40 per cent over that period while at the same time the number of people aged 65 and over has increased by 15.6 per cent or 1,254,879.
Research from Age UK has already shown that 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.
The damning figures show that between 2010/11 and 2013/14:
- Older people receiving home care has fallen by 31.7 per cent (542,965 to 370,630)
- Day care places have plummeted by 66.9 per cent (178,700 to 59,125)
- Numbers of older people who receive vital equipment and adaptations to help remain safely at home has dropped by 41.6 per cent.
- Numbers receiving meals on wheels has plunged by 63.7 per cent (81,460 to 29,560)
- Spend on home care has dropped since 2010/11 by 19.4 per cent (£276,922,528) falling from £2,250,168,237 to £1,814,518,000
- Spend on day care has fallen even more dramatically by 30 per cent (£113,618,974) from £378,532,974 to £264,914,00
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 (31.1 per cent) of older people who have difficulty in carrying out some essential activities of daily life do not receive any formal help, meaning[xxii]:
- Half of those who struggle to wash/get in the bath do not receive any help (500,000 out of a million – 1,010,000.)
- One in three of those who find it difficult to go to the toilet do not receive any help (120,000 out of 350,000)
- One in three of those who find it hard to get out of bed on their own do not receive any help (190,000 out of 570,000)
- Four in five of those who need help taking their medication do not receive any help (200,000 out of 240,000)
- Over two thirds of those who find it hard to eat on their own do not receive any help (160,000 out of 250,000)
- Over two fifths of those who find it difficult to get dressed do not receive any help (590,000 out of 1,300,000)
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK says:
‘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.
‘The more preventive services like meals on wheels and day care are being especially hard hit, leaving the system increasingly the preserve of older people in the most acute need, storing up big problems for the future.
‘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.
‘Today, many hospitals are finding it hard to discharge older people and commentators are asking why this challenge seems to be growing, year on year. A big part of the explanation is revealed by this scorecard: the marked decline in central Government funding for social care and the resultant reduction in support for older people to live independently at home – this at the same time as their numbers are rising.
‘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.
‘The Better Care Fund is very welcome, in so far as it is encouraging local health and care services to work together with other community services to improve their support to older people living with frailty. However the £3.8 billion is not new money and the projected savings from reductions in emergency admissions are very optimistic.
‘So policymakers owe it to the public, older people especially, to confront the crisis in social care and its consequences. 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.