Reform of social care is urgently needed

February 6, 2019

Age UK is calling on Government to publish its social care green paper, saying that the funding and reform of social care is urgently needed.

This comes as the charity reports that more than 50,000 older people have now died while waiting for care during the 700 days since the Government first said it would publish a social care green paper. The figure comes from NHS Digital data showing the number of people who died before social care services could be provided.

Age UK is also stating that, over the same period, more than 600,000 older people have had their requests for social care refused by their council, and over 7,000 older people have had run down all their savings because of their care bills, leaving them reliant on the State to fund their care in future and with nothing to leave for loved ones after their death.

In addition, over 1.2 million older people have developed an unmet care need in the last 700 days. This equates to 1,805 people developing an unmet need every day.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK said, 'These tragic new figures demonstrate just how many older people are now suffering from the Government’s failure to act decisively on social care. No-one can say whether some of those who have died might have lived longer had they received care, but at the very least their final weeks and months might have been more comfortable and their families’ lives made easier, had they been given more support.

'Some policymakers talk about social care as though it was some kind of ‘nice to have’ discretionary purchase, but for older people whose health is in decline and who may be approaching the end of their lives, it is an absolutely vital public service, and sustaining it and ensuring it is of good quality ought to be a top Government priority. However, the fact we have waited so long for the Green Paper and that its publication has been delayed five times calls this seriously into question.

'Delays in putting care packages in place for older people reflect a social care system that is inadequate to the task and struggling to cope. Councils are often overwhelmed and therefore slow in processing applications and carrying out assessments, and even once all the paperwork has been completed there can be long delays because there are simply no paid carers available locally to provide help.

'We fully accept that the Government has had many crucial issues to deal with over the last 700 days, but if it’s your Mum or Dad, husband or wife who is profoundly unwell and who badly needs more support there is nothing more important to you in the world. As it is, more than 50,000 older people and their families have been let down when many of them needed help the most. Sadly, it seems inevitable that more will join them unless and until the Government grips this issue and gets on with the process of reforming social care and giving it the funding it needs.'

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