Improving care at home, more sheltered, extra care and dementia focussed housing, investment in crisis resolution intermediate care and better information and advice for older and disabled people would prevent many from needing hospital or residential care, reducing pressures across health and social care every winter, says a new report from ADASS (the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services).
In the first part of the ADASS Autumn Survey 2023 almost two thirds (63%) of social care leaders say that community-based care and support is not widely available in their local area. Just under half (49%) of adult social care directors indicated that in their area there is only limited availability of preventative services focused on reducing the number of avoidable admissions to hospital and residential care.
This gap in early support is made worse by a lack of information and advice so people can make an informed choice about the care they or family members need. Two in five (39%) social care directors report that there is limited availability of timely information, advice and support in their local areas.
Pressures on the NHS are also leading to overstretched adult social care staff providing support that used to be provided by the health service. Seven in ten social care directors say that their staff are increasingly undertaking tasks that were previously delivered by the NHS but without it being funded.
Not only does this add to councils’ financial pressures, it reduces the time that frontline social care staff have to meet people’s essential social care needs and means that some people are being charged for care that would have previously been free at the point of delivery because it was provided by the NHS.
Social care leaders identified sheltered and extra care housing as a key solution to provide regular support and stop problems escalating, supporting people at home and out of hospital. Almost all directors agreed that specialist accommodation designed for people with dementia in their local areas would make a difference. They also are calling for new homes to be built to accessibility standards which allow for wheelchairs, ramps and stairlifts as people’s needs change.
Commenting on the report, ADASS President, Beverley Tarka, said:
“There are millions of ill, disabled and older people who want to continue living at home independently, and with the right support they can. To do this we need to invest in more early, preventative social care support in people’s homes and local communities, invest in better housing and put people in control of their care through providing better access to information and advice. This will help stop small problems getting worse, prevent people needing hospital in the first place and help find a cure for the annual winter crisis.
“This is a plan that will improve the lives people who need care and support and stop the cycle of winter pressures on hospitals we’re seeing every year.
It’s a plan that will better support older and disabled people, it will better support people who face mental health challenges, who are homeless or are from disadvantaged or minoritised communities. It’s a plan that will improve the lives of those who were most affected by the impact of the pandemic and should be a priority for this and the next Government.”