New Age UK analysis estimates that in the 30 months between the last and the forthcoming General Elections, 74,000 over-65s in England have died or will die having never received the care and support they have asked for.
This means in the period 8th June 2017 – 12th December 2019, an average of 81 people a day died while in this very unfortunate position. That's equivalent to three every hour.
In its manifesto which was published last week, the Charity is calling on whichever political party forms the next government to invest £8 billion into the current system over the next two years to prevent further decline.
As well as social care, Age UK's manifesto highlights other issues with a negative impact on older people. These include poverty, ageism, poor housing, loneliness and ill health. It also puts forward their preferred policies, with the aim of “enabling every older person to enjoy the dignified, secure and fulfilling later life we all want for ourselves and those we love”.
Care and support needs not being met
Age UK also estimates that in the 18 months between the last and forthcoming General Elections, 1,725,000 requests have been made, or will be made, by older people for care and support which have resulted in them not receiving a care service. This is equivalent to 2,000 fruitless claims from older people a day, or 78 every hour.
This huge number of requests for help did not lead to any support actually being given for three main reasons:
- the older people died or will die before services were provided, as has already been highlighted;
- because of a decision that they did not meet the eligibility criteria as interpreted by their local authority;
- their local authority signposted them to some other kind of help than a care service.
Social care is not some kind of nice-to-have optional extra
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Unfortunately we have effectively wasted the last eighteen months, waiting for the Social Care Green Paper that never was. Many older people have lost out as a result, including the 74,000 who had applied or will apply for a care service over this period, but who died or will die before a care package was put together and actually provided.
“Social care is not some kind of nice-to-have optional extra, it’s a fundamental service on which millions of older and disabled people depend every day. Good care, provided by kind and committed people, enriches lives and makes it possible to have dignity and hope. The reverse is also true: if you need care and you can’t get it then there are very serious implications for your health and your wellbeing - as the NHS knows all too well. It is appalling that one and a half million older people in our country now have some unmet need for care.
“The truth is that our political system has completely failed when it comes to the reform and funding of social care and older and disabled people are being badly let down. This General Election is the latest in a long list of opportunities to put things right and we fervently hope that this time it’s different.
“Older people will be listening very carefully to what the representatives of the five political parties attending our Rally say on Thursday about their policies on social care, as will Age UK.”
Read Age UK's manifesto in full here.