Half of all older people’s requests for care were turned down in the last year, new ‘woeful’ research reveals
According to worrying new research by Age UK, 2,000 older people’s requests for care were turned down every day in this last year, highlighting the struggle older people and their families face when trying to secure social care.
In the new report – ‘Behind the Headlines: Battling to get care’ – Age UK describes the social care system as being “woefully inadequate for the job now required of it, despite the best efforts of the good people working in it.”
The charity’s analysis shows that over the last year, roughly 700,000 requests for formal care and support made by older people, equivalent to 51 percent of all requests, have been unsuccessful. This shockingly equates to 80 unsuccessful care requests every hour.
In some instances, says Age UK, the older person was found by their council not to meet the eligibility criteria set for the social care system (23 percent of all requests for help), whereas in other cases, the older person was found ineligible but their council then referred them onto other services in the hope that they could assist, including their local Age UK (46 percent of all requests for help).
Age UK says that these figures show how difficult it is now to qualify for care within the current social care system. Between 2010/11 and 2018/19, total spending on adult social care fell by £86 million in real terms, representing a four percent reduction in local authority spending.
While spending has now largely recovered from its lowest point in 2014/15, the older and disabled population has meanwhile significantly increased, the charity adds, meaning social care spending per head of the adult population has fallen by six percent per person over the same time period.
The charity says that these figures, whilst deeply concerning, are not surprising due to councils being stretched out. A recent report by the LGiU and the MJ echoed the fact that councils face a lot of stress, with social care being named the number one long-term financial pressure for councils.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: “The fact that 2,000 older people are being turned down for care every day demonstrates both the enormous numbers impacted by our ramshackle care system, and how serious the problems it faces have now become.
“We don’t know what happens to these older people whose applications are rejected but inevitably some have no choice but to struggle on alone. Good social care helps to keep older people fit and well, so if you are forced to go without it’s a recipe for emerging health problems to turn into crises, possibly leading to a hospital stay that might otherwise have been avoided and a decline in your health from which you may never fully recover.
“Faced with too much demand and too little supply, our social care system is effectively under siege. Councils do their best with the resources they have but there are simply not enough to go round. One result is this vast number of older people whose applications for help are rejected and another the long waits for an assessment to have your case looked into at all. Our report is heart-rending stories of older people in need who are being comprehensively let down, and the nightmarish situations created for them and their families. Real suffering is going on, with older people’s lives being diminished and, in some cases we fear, being cut short.
“The Prime Minister has promised to fix social care and our new report shows why it’s so vital for our older population that he keeps his word. For some, tragically, it is already too late.”