A snap survey of the state of social care services has revealed a rapidly deteriorating picture of hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people left waiting for help despite record increases in care being provided to people in their own homes.
Directors of social services across England are expressing unprecedented alarm at the findings as winter approaches. They say the government must act to stabilise the care system. The survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has found:
- Almost 400,000 people are now waiting for an assessment of their needs or service;
- More than 1.5 million hours of commissioned home care could not be provided between August and October because of a lack of staff, despite record growth in provision;
- One in two councils has had to respond to a care home closure or bankruptcy over the past six months.
Stephen Chandler, ADASS president, said:
“This survey confirms our worst fears. Red lights are flashing right across our dashboard.
“Despite magnificent efforts by the committed, courageous and compassionate people working in social care who are delivering extraordinary amounts of care and support, services are failing to meet everyone’s needs and older and disabled people are suffering.
“The government must now acknowledge the scale of the crisis and step in with emergency funding and measures to ensure we can get through the winter ahead.”
“The survey findings come ahead of the expected publication of the government’s white paper on reform of adult social care. ADASS is calling as a priority for action to raise the pay and status of care work and put it on a professional footing in the long term.
“The findings suggest, however, that immediate steps must be taken to stem the loss of care workers to other sectors to ensure services can be maintained. ADASS is urging the government to fund a £1,000 winter retention bonus for all staff.
Responding to the survey Danny Mortimer chief executive of NHS Employers and deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: “Despite a record increase in home care provision, there is huge pressure on adult social care staff and services this winter.
“For the NHS, it will take the backlog caused by the pandemic even longer to clear if we don’t immediately tackle the pressures facing social care.
“For social care more generally the government must act immediately to stem the loss of more care workers this winter and the social care workforce should be awarded a £1000 retention bonus.
“In the longer term, Government must immediately publish their long-promised White Paper, along with a long-term health and social care workforce plan.
“Staff in the social care system are working flat out to ensure people get the care they need. The challenges they face have been unsustainable for some time. There can be no further delay.”