New Research Reveals Over 2 Million Pensioners Struggle To Cope With Basic Tasks

Over two million older people living at home in England experience difficulties with key aspects of living independently, such as cooking, dressing or bathing. Meanwhile, almost half a million older carers provide round the clock care to a loved one, but over 80% do not receive any council services. That’s according to a new report from Independent Age and the Strategic Society Centre, which also estimates that:

  • 70,000 of the most disabled pensioners do not get any form of paid or unpaid care at home.
  • Among those supported by care workers or families, 160,000 report inadequate support, saying it only sometimes or hardly ever meets their needs.
  • Older people in need are much more likely to get disability benefits than receive local authority support.

The Bigger Picture report analyses data on the 65+ population in England from the Census, Department for Work and Pensions, the Health and Social Care Information Centre and the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing (2011-2013).

It provides a detailed picture of disability and care needs among England’s older population at a local, regional and national level.  The aim of the research is to help councils and care providers to get ready for the Care Act.

The Care Act comes into effect in April 2015 and places new duties on local authorities to offer more help to older people and their carers. The research looks at levels of unmet need for social care, analyses publicly funded support to the over 65’s and considers levels of entitlement to care following the introduction of the Care Act.

The new report is published a week after the National Audit Office warned that more than half of all councils are not well placed financially to provide the services they hope to within the next five years, and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services expressed concern that further cuts in social care budgets look set to erode vital care and support services to disabled and older people.

Simon Bottery, Director of Policy at Independent Age said:

“The Care Act is intended to ensure that older people receive better care and support but this new research highlights alarming gaps even in existing levels of care. Councils need to be acting now if the promises of the Care Act are to be fulfilled but national government also has to ensure that there is enough funding to properly implement it. In particular, we need to properly fund preventative services which delay the moment when older people need more intensive care and support.”

James Lloyd, Director of the Strategic Society Centre said:

“This research shows the scale of the challenge facing local authorities and national policymakers, if aspirations to support older people with prevention and information contained in the Care Act are to be achieved. We will need a revolution in how councils, communities and families support older people who struggle with different aspects of living independently.”