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Elderly people are suffering the most from social care cuts, says report


15 September 2016

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The care older people receive increasingly depends on where they live and their wealth rather than their needs, according to a new think-tank report.

The study from The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust, Social care for older people, found that six consecutive years of cuts to local authority budgets has seen 26% fewer people get social care help.

The report found that these cuts along with a rising demand for services and shortages of staff have left the social care system increasingly unable to meet the needs of the older people.

The care older people receive increasingly depends on where they live and their wealth rather than their needs, according to a new think-tank report.

The study from The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust, Social care for older people, found that six consecutive years of cuts to local authority budgets has seen 26% fewer people get social care help.

The report found that these cuts along with a rising demand for services and shortages of staff have left the social care system increasingly unable to meet the needs of the older people.

This is placing an “unacceptable burden” on unpaid carers and is leaving rising numbers of older people without any support at all, the report found.

Evidence presented in the report suggests that reductions in fees paid by local authorities and other cost pressures such as the National Living Wage are squeezing the incomes of residential and home care providers.

It warns that an increasing number are likely to leave the market or go out of business as a result, potentially leaving older people without the care they depend on.

The squeeze on care provider budgets is also prompting some providers in affluent areas to step back from providing care for people funded by local authorities.

The King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust researchers expect the funding gap in the social care system to reach at least £2.8 billion by 2019/20 as public spending on adult social care shrinks to less than 1% of GDP.

Phil McCarvill, deputy director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: “Insufficient social care funding is now the most urgent threat to the NHS and the wider health and care system. 

He added: “In the run up to last year’s Spending Review we urged the Government to stop seeing the NHS, social care and public health as three separate funding streams and instead view them as part of a single system.

“If we are to truly join up health and care then we need to support people to receive the care when and where they need it.

“Inadequate funding in one part of the system has a profound impact on the other parts to deliver the right care.

“Without this, local coordination and planning will become increasingly disjointed and the care individuals receive will suffer.”

Ruth Thorlby, deputy director of policy at the Nuffield Trust, said: “No one can predict whether they will have care needs later in life. But if they do find they need help with the basics – eating, washing, going to the toilet – most will discover that unlike a health problem where care is free, they somehow have to manage themselves.

She added: “The number of older people needing care is increasing and yet we are continuing to put less money in. Unmet need is rising, providers are threatening to pull out of contracts, the wellbeing of carers is deteriorating, access to care is getting worse.”

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