Increase in adults with unmet needs

July 9, 2018

There has been an increase in the number of adults with unmet needs, according to new analysis from Age UK. The charity says that the number of older people who don’t get the care and support they need has soared to a record high of 1.4 million - a rise of nearly a fifth in two years.

The analysis also highlights the enormous cost to the NHS of delayed discharges due to social care, suggesting it costs the NHS more than £500 per minute.

The number of older people in England who struggle without the help they depend on to carry out essential everyday tasks (ADLs), such as getting out of bed, going to the toilet, washing and getting dressed, has increased to 1.4 million, meaning nearly one in seven older people (14% of the entire 65+ population) now live with some level of unmet need. This represents a 19% increase since 2015.

Age UK also found that, amongst the 1.4 million adults with unmet needs, 296,813 need help with three or more essential activities, 158,468 of whom receive no help whatsoever from either paid carers or family and friends.

Taking into account other necessary tasks (IADLs), such as shopping, cooking or managing medication, the number of adults with unmet needs rises to over 1.5 million people (1,541,239), a 5% increase in the last two years. Among this group, over half (56%) didn’t get any help at all.

The charity has also calculated that delayed discharges from hospital due to social care not being in place costs the NHS £289,140,954 a year equivalent to £550 per minute.

This new analysis is set against a context in which, between 2009/10 and 2016/17, spending on adult social care in England fell by 8% in real terms. As a result, over the same period, the average spend per adult on social care fell by 13%, from £439 to £379, and an estimated 400,000 fewer older people received social care as the eligibility criteria tightened in response to insufficient resources.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said, 'These figures show that our older people and the NHS are both being very badly let down by the catastrophic lack of Government funding for social care. Our new analysis echoes what we hear all around the country: it is getting ever harder to access care if you need it and increasing numbers of frail, ill older people are being left to manage alone...This is why it is so important that the Government brings forward some bold proposals to improve social care later this year...

'The numbers of delayed discharges due to a lack of social care are actually going down, but lack of social care still costs the NHS an eye watering £500 every minute - not to mention undermining the chances of older people making a full recovery if they are unnecessarily stuck in hospital for weeks or longer. At a time when the Government says we need to spend public money carefully, it makes no sense to fritter it away in this way...It's high time the Government saw Health and Care as one whole system and provided the resources needed by both.'

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