The number of older people being failed by the social care system has grown by 20% in two years, according to new analysis.
Age UK research found that 1.4m older people are not have having their care needs met.
“Our new analysis echoes what we hear all round the country: it is getting ever harder to access care if you need it and increasing numbers of frail, ill older people are being left to manage alone,” says Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director.
“If an older person needs social care but can’t get it this is a surefire recipe for them to become weaker and less well. They are at far greater risk of not eating enough and of falling and hurting themselves because of trying to do more than they really should. And it goes without saying that their lives are likely to be diminished and made more miserable. Is this what we want for our parents and grandparents, husbands and wives, older neighbours and friends in 2018?”
Age UK said more than 300,000 people needed support with three or more essential daily tasks such as getting out of bed, getting dressed or going to the toilet.
The analysis also revealed that delays to hospital discharges due to a lack of social care cost the NHS over £500 a minute.
“These numbers show the folly and sheer wastefulness of the government’s failure to invest anything like enough money in social care,” said Caroline.
“We all depend on the NHS so we all lose out if it has less money to spend due to the lack of social care, but there is no doubt that it’s our older population who are paying the highest price of all – with their health, their happiness and sometimes even their lives.
“The numbers of delayed discharges due to a lack of social care are actually going down, but lack of social care still costs the NHS an eye-watering £500 every minute – not to mention undermining the chances of older people making a full recovery if they are unnecessarily stuck in hospital for weeks or longer. At a time when the government says we need to spend public money carefully, it makes no sense to fritter it away in this way.
“It’s high time the government saw health and care as one whole system and provided the resources needed by both.”