Care of the elderly is in a state of “calamitous, quite rapid decline”, a leading charity boss has warned, with hundreds of thousands fewer people receiving care than five years ago.
More than £1bn has been slashed from councils’ social-care budgets in England since 2010, despite an increase in the elderly population, meaning thousands who would have received help with basic tasks such as getting out of bed or taking medication no longer get support, AgeUK said.
Caroline Abrahams, it’s director, said the cuts were also harming the NHS, with hospitals struggling to discharge patients quickly into home or community care – a major factor behind the extreme pressure faced by hospitals this winter.
The problems of “exit block” leads to delays in admitting patients from emergency departments, because beds are taken up by frail elderly people waiting for a community-care package. It is believed to be a major factor contributing to this winters’ 10-year highs in A&E waiting times.
AgeUK said the number of older people receiving home care has fallen by a third since 2010, while places in day-care centres declined by two-thirds. More than 40 per cent fewer people receive equipment and adaptations such as rails and stairlifts.
Just under 9 per cent of over-65s – 850,000 people – receive any support from councils, down from well over a million five years ago.
The Department of Health, said that, in total, an extra £1bn had been given to local councils to help to protect social-care services this year, adding that councils were responsible for determining their own budgets.
The Government is to give £25m to 65 councils where delays in discharging elderly patients from hospitals are the most severe.
“The Department of Health puts back £1.1bn into c0unty councils when so much damage has already been done by savage cuts to funding. It’s a bit rich.”
One of the main reasons there is such a crisis in hospitals is that a large number of elderly people are occupying beds because they can’t be sent home.
And the reason they can’t is that the home care system is collapsing.
There is terrible pressure on carers which leads to them having almost no time to spend with people in desperate need.
Gillian Demet has turned whistleblower because she thinks what is happening to care needs to be exposed.
She tells how she had just 15 minutes to look after each of her clients – 15 minutes in which she might, typically, have to get someone out of bed, undress them, wash them, dress them, make their breakfast, give it to them – and then dash off to do it all over again. And she worked 14 hours some days for the minimum wage.
Yet Gillian’s main concern isn’t the pressure she was under but the impact on her clients.
Incredibly, her boss at private care firm Sevacare, Ravi Bains, agrees with her about the inadequacy of the service. He says such short visits are unfair on carers and those they are looking after.
Mr Bains is just as forthright in saying where the blame lies – with government cuts.
The amount spent on home care has plummeted by 25 per cent since the coalition came to power and will fall much lower if the Tories win the election.
David Cameron’s big campaign pitch is that we can’t afford to spend more. On the contrary, Prime Minister – we can’t afford to spend so little on some things, with home care at the top of the list.
This is an appalling way to treat the most vulnerable, needy pensioners.
“All of our health and care sectors are in crisis now – what on earth the future holds is anyone’s guess – but be prepared, it looks certain to get worse, if it ever gets better – ‘Care in the Community’, what was that?”
Sunday Mirror. 18/01/2015. P.14