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NHS Digital has published findings from the Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey for 2019-2020, which explores social care service users’ experiences and trends over the years.

Entitled ‘Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey, England 2019-20’, the survey is conducted by Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities (CASSRs) annually. 62,520 service users took part in this year’s survey, who were aged 18 and over.

The survey asks service users questions about their quality of life and what impact care and support services have on their quality of life.

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Findings from the survey are designed to help the adult social care sector understand more about how services are affecting lives to enable choice and for informing service development.

Key statistics show that just under two-thirds of service users were very or extremely satisfied with the care and support they received. 2.1 per cent (12,430) of service users were very or extremely dissatisfied with the care and support they received.

Furthermore, the percentage of service users aged over 85 has fallen over each of the last five years. The percentage decreased from to 27.3 per cent (172,580) in 2018-19 to 26.8 per cent (162,230) in 2019-20.

Importantly, this year’s survey reflected improvements to accessible housing for service users.

Over half of service users felt their home meets their needs well, compared to just three per cent saying their home was totally inappropriate for their needs. The survey also shows that, over time, the percentage of service users that felt their home met some of their needs increased from 11 per cent (69,780) to 11.9 per cent (72,360). NHS Digital says this change is statistically significant.

With calls for more accessible housing from the HoME Coalition and a £573 million investment in the Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) announced in the 2020 Spending Review, perhaps this trend of more appropriate homes for elderly and disabled people will be reflected in future surveys.

Moreover, 29.5 per cent (178,560) of service users said they use their own money to buy more care. The percentage of service users who answered that their family pays for some more care also increased from 10.8 per cent in 2018-19 to 11.6 per cent in 2019-20.

This echoes findings from Age UK earlier this year, which showed that in England in 2018/19, 5,190 people were classified as ‘self-funders with depleted funds’ – a category of individuals Age UK describes as having run down their savings and assets until they had virtually nothing left due to care costs.

The number represented a sharp increase of more than a third (37 per cent), compared to the previous year.

In response to these harrowing figures, Age UK Charity Director Caroline Abrahams said that people who have to pay for their own care are spending far too much and recommended sharing the risk of developing care needs by paying into a national fund, like the NHS.

In addition, the Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey unveiled that the proportion of service users that have practical help on a regular basis from either a partner, family member, friend or neighbour, who lived in their household, increased from 40.8 per cent (256,410) in 2018-19 to 42.3 per cent (256,220) in 2019-20.

According to the survey, nearly one-third of service users rated their quality of life as so good it could not be better or very good. In contrast, 3.4 per cent of service users rated their quality of life as very bad or so bad it could not be worse.

When looking at social contact, almost half of the respondents reported they had as much social contact as they wanted with people they like, compared to 6.3 per cent of people who said they had little social contact and felt socially isolated.

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