Social care ‘at tipping point’

A major new study has revealed that social care for older people in the UK is under “massive pressure” with some care providers on the brink of collapse. 

The joint King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust report says spending on care by councils has fallen by 25% over the last five years and predicts it is only a matter of time before a care provider goes out of business.

Ray James, of the association of directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “We’re now at a tipping point where social care is in jeopardy, and unless the Government addresses the chronic underfunding of the sector, there will be worrying consequences for the NHS and, most importantly, older and disabled people, their families and carers. Social care providers are under unprecedented pressure and the NHS will have to pick up the pieces when they fail.”

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Mr James called on the government to recognise the current crisis in the sector by using its Autumn Statement to bring forward the additional Better Care Fund money planned for 2018/2019.

He added that the precept introduced in the 2015 Autumn Statement to give councils the option to raise council tax by 2% for adult social care would generate less than two thirds of the £600m needed to cover the National Living Wage this year and left directors with a £940m funding gap to keep services at last year’s levels.

The King’s Fund/Nuffield Trust report says that providers had rejected council contracts in 59 local authority areas.

It added that 40% of money paid to care homes came from private funding and that access to care depended increasingly on what people could afford and where they live rather than what they need.

Under-investment in primary and community NHS services was further compounding the demand for residential care.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said:  “These reports will sadly come as little surprise to many of the people who work in the care system or to the older people and families who depend on it. Social care is in serious trouble and this is putting the health and dignity of today’s older people at risk. Today’s reports highlight the need for serious reform to a system that is being starved of the cash and the attention that it deserves.”

Professor Martin Green OBE, chief of Care England, added: “Adult social care is a huge challenge for this Government.  This report reaffirms what providers have been telling us: that without adequate resources the sector will simply crumble.  It is dangerous to underestimate the potential role and capacity of the independent sector in supporting NHS sustainability and reducing delayed discharge numbers, which continue to rise.”

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said the report showed the “cumulative impact on older people and their families of year on year cuts to social care” and said it should come as a “wake-up call” to the Government”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health (DoH) said the Government understood that social care was under pressure and was committed to ensuring old people in the UK had “affordable and dignified care”.

The DoH said the government had introduced landmark reforms to ensure no-one had to sell their homes to pay for their care in their lifetime and had increased the amount available for social care by up to £3.5bn by 2020.

It added it planned to introduce a cap on care costs from 2020 and was working with the insurance industry and others to achieve this.

To read the report, click here



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