Fewer getting help as 1.84 million social care requests leaves system at ‘crisis point’

The social care system in England is at “crisis point”, with more people asking for care but fewer receiving it, according to a report.

The study, from the influential King’s Fund think tank, found a 2% rise in new requests for adult social care since 2015/16, to hit 1.84 million requests in 2017/18.

The study found that fewer people are receiving care, with almost 13,000 fewer granted help over the same period.

Local council spending on social care has dropped in real terms and is now £700 million below what it was in 2010/11.

The study found it is not just older people who are requesting help, with a rise in the number of adults of working age seeking support as levels of disability rise.

Since 2015/16, there has been a rise from 1.31 million to 1.32 million older people requesting help, while among working-age people requests have gone up from just over 500,000 to nearly 524,000.

The data shows that more than 7,000 more working-age people are receiving long-term support compared with 2015/16, but there has been a fall of more than 20,000 older people receiving it.

Simon Bottery (pictured), senior fellow at the King’s Fund and lead author of the report, said: “This report shows that increasing need among working-age adults, an increasing older population and high levels of existing unmet need are combining to put immense pressure on our care and support system, now and for the future.

“Yet there is little evidence that the Government understands or is willing to act on these trends despite the impact on older and disabled people, their families and carers.

“The social care green paper, which still has no release date over two years after it was announced, is an opportunity to set out the fundamental reform we desperately need.

“But while the green paper is delayed, the Government must focus on what it can do to support people now.

“Putting more money into the system in this autumn’s spending review would help people to get the help they need while longer-term reform takes effect.”

The analysis found that 18% of working-age people now report a disability, up from 15% in 2010/11.

The proportion of disabled working-age adults reporting mental health conditions has increased significantly from 24% to 36% in the last five years.

These trends are matched by a rise in the number of working-age adults claiming disability benefits.

The report said the drop in the proportion of over-65s getting long-term social care from their local council could partly be due to a freeze since 2010/11 in the amount of assets people can hold and still be eligible for state-funded care.

It warned that unmet need among older people remains high, with 22% saying they need support but do not get it.

The report also warned of a growing crisis in the social care workforce, with 8% of jobs vacant at any given time and a high turnover of staff.

The report found that costs of residential care for councils are rising, with the average cost of residential and nursing care for an older person at £615 per week, a real-terms increase of 6.6% since 2015/16.

However, the number of nursing and residential care beds available for people aged over 75 has fallen from 11.3 per 1,000 to 10.1 since 2012.

The report comes as the Labour Party announced plans for an increase in the number of home care packages for those who need support with things like getting in and out of bed, bathing and preparing meals.

It pledged more cash and said the plans could provide support to more than 160,000 older people who currently get no help, including 50,000 people with dementia.

Shadow minister for mental health Barbara Keeley said: “This Tory Government has shamefully abandoned older people and young adults with care needs.

“There is still no sign of their social care green paper which was promised over two years ago, and vulnerable older people have needlessly suffered as a result of the Government’s failure.

“People with dementia are unfairly punished when it comes to paying for their care needs so Labour will correct this injustice in government.

“We want care staff to be properly paid and trained, so that they can provide the kind of compassionate care that they want to give.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) The Kings Fund.