Social care on ‘borrowed time’, says Age UK

The social care system is living on ‘borrowed time’ according to a new report by Age UK.

The Health and Care of Older People in England 2017 study says one in eight people are now living with unmet care needs and demands the government commit money in the Spring Budget to avoid the system’s collapse.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “The government has tried to prop up older people’s social care in three ways: through financial transfers from the NHS, a social care precept in local areas, and by calling on families and friends to do more. Unfortunately our analysis shows there are problems with all three approaches, which in any event are not enough to make up for the chronic shortfall in public funds.”

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The report calls on the government to take a lead on the development of a long term solution to the care crisis that takes into account the views of older people and all parts of the health and social care sector.

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said: “In October last year CQC declared that adult social care was approaching a tipping point and Age UK’s report reflects yet more sobering analysis of the difficult challenges facing the sector and the people who depend upon it.

“CQC has completed over 30,000 inspections across adult social care since we introduced our new methodology in October 2014.  We know quality is variable, many people do experience great care but that is not the reality for everyone and we see services struggling to improve.

“The issues highlighted by Age UK are real but my number one concern is the impact this variation has on people, their families and carers, who have every right to experience care that is safe, compassionate and of high quality.

“Despite the challenges, CQC will not compromise on our responsibility to set clear expectations, encourage improvement and hold providers to account. But making a positive and sustainable difference to quality cannot be achieved by the regulator alone.

“The focus has to be on how everyone – funders, providers, staff, commissioners and partners alike – works together to listen and respond to the needs of those who rely and depend on vital care services.

“The message is clear: we have got to make adult social care the priority that it deserves to be.”

NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson, added: “The evidence is overwhelming – vast numbers of older people with lots of different health conditions now find themselves in crisis because the system cannot cope. For too many of them, social care has gone from being a limited service to an invisible one. The case for more social care funding is immediate and unanswerable to relieve pressure on the NHS and relieve the suffering of those affected.

“Of course this is not just about money – the health and care system needs to be redesigned – that means making sure hospital, community and social services come together to produce better results for patients.”

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