New research from Age UK reveals that nearly 900,000 (870, 000) older people between 65 and 89 now have unmet needs for social care[i]. The research uncovers the fact that nearly a third (31.1 per cent) of people who have difficulty in carrying out some essential activities of daily life do not receive any help formally from care workers or informally from family, friends or neighbours and are left to struggle alone. These are older people who requirehelp with everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, washing, using the toilet or eating.
This overall figure of older people with unmet needs includes:
* Four in five who need help taking their medication (200,000 out of 240,000)
* Over two thirds who find it hard to eat on their own (160,000 out of 250,000)
* A half who struggle to wash/get in the bath (500,000 out of a million – 1,010,000)
* Over two fifths who find it difficult to get dressed (590,000 out of 1,300,000m)
* More than one in three who find it difficult to go to the toilet (120,000 out of 350,000)
* And one in three who find it hard to get out of bed on their own (190,000 out of 570,000)
Between 2005/6 and 2012/13 the number of people aged 65 and over in receipt of social care services has dropped by more than a quarter (27.2 per cent – from 1,231,000 to 896,000[[ii]]) – even though this age group has grown by more than one million over the same period[iii]. 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 a massive £1.2 billion (15.4 per cent)[iv] ].
The result is that today, access to publicly funded social care is more restricted than ever and in most local authority areas it is only currently available for those whose needs are assessed as being ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’ – leaving anyone who is assessed as ‘moderate’ without any help. Yet ‘moderate’ typically includes someone who has problems carrying out one of these essential everyday tasks listed above.
The new Care Act 2014 means local authorities will have to follow new rules determining who is eligible for care. The Government is currently running a public consultation about this Guidance. The outcome will be crucial because it will determine who will and who will not receive care and support from April 2015 when the Care Act comes into force.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK says:
“It beggars belief that one in three older people who need some basic help with daily living are now having to do without it. And it is important to remember that the figures we analysed for this research only go up to age 89. It makes you wonder how many more thousands of people in their nineties are being left to struggle alone.”
“When older people begin to need some help with essential daily tasks like eating and washing they should expect that it will be there for them, yet it is increasingly beyond their reach. This is profoundly shocking, and it’s a direct result of our care system being scaled back at the same time as the population of older people is growing.
“Our national failure to invest properly in social care not only deprives older people of vital support, it also makes no economic sense: for example, an older person who struggles to eat is more likely to become ill and need expensive hospital treatment than if they receive some regular help with their meals: social care helps older people to stay well and keep their independence for longer.
“The Care Act is fundamentally good legislation but underfunding means increasing numbers of older people are being shut out of the care system. The Government’s draft guidance on eligibility for care suggests that from now on, the inability to do just one of these essential things like washing or dressing will not be enough to qualify you for support. It is not even certain that people with dementia who need help to continue to live at home with dignity will be entitled to it.
“Older people deserve so much better. That’s why Age UK is calling on the Government to change its Eligibility Guidance so that every older person who requires some help with an essential daily task can get it. ”
1,200 mile walk to Rome nears completion
Dedicated Alzheimer’s Society supporter Paul Haines is currently walking 1,200 miles from Canterbury to Rome, a route which passes through France, Switzerland and Italy.
This is Paul’s second fundraising challenge for Alzheimer’s Society and follows on from his 2012 walk from Seville to Santiago de Compostela. He began his journey to Rome in May and hopes to complete it in the next couple of weeks. He has had some amazing experiences along the way including meeting Stevie Wonder in Lucca.
‘I told him about my walk from London to Rome and the fact that I was raising funds for two charities that are involved with music and health. It was fantastic to meet him and he and his manager seemed very aware of the work the two charities are involved with.’
To date Paul has raised £3,543 and is in the last 150km of his walk. If you would like to sponsor Paul to spur him along the last part of his journey, please visit his JustGiving page.
IPads show older people at Larchfield are embracing technology
Silver surfers at Anchor’s Larchfield care home in Leeds are embracing new technology and have been using their new iPad to stay in touch with loved ones around the world.
Larchfield Activities Coordinator Betty Rhodes said residents and their relatives were thrilled about the iPad as it opened up so many opportunities for them.
She said: “Many of the residents have never used an iPad before so they really enjoy having a cup of coffee while learning how to use the new tablet. Speaking to family members who live in other countries is certainly one of the most popular activities.”
Mr Kevin Imbleau, a resident at Larchfield for 5 years and pictured above, has been enjoying using the iPad to Skype his brother Philip and sister-in-law Angela who live in Australia. This July he was thrilled that they were able to come over to visit in person and although they didn’t need to use the iPad to communicate, Betty was able to use the tablet to record some of their time together in person for him to enjoy watching after they left.
Betty comments: “A recent trial in several other Anchor care homes showed that using iPads had a hugely positive impact on residents’ lives. They provide further occasions for meaningful activity which are fun and can be shared with other residents or carers. And I certainly see the benefits for our residents here at Larchfield.