Social care directors issue urgent call for more resources to avoid people dying over winter

More than nine in 10 social care directors do not believe their local area has enough staff or funding to get through the winter, a survey suggests.

Social care bosses are urgently calling for more resources to avoid people dying early over the coming months because their care needs are not being met.

A survey by the Association of Directors of Adults Social Services (Adass) has found that 94% of members disagree that they have sufficient funding to meet the costs of care over the winter.

The same proportion disagree that the social care workforce in their area will be sufficient to manage.

The Adass survey, which drew responses from 116 councils (76% of the total), found that three in four respondents do not think they would be able to cope if a large care provider were to fail.

Councils are responsible for ensuring “continuity of care”, which means making alternative care arrangements if a provider fails.

More than half (54%) of directors surveyed by Adass disagreed that their council could manage the failure of several small care providers over winter.

Overall, some 491,633 people were estimated to be on social care waiting lists for assessments, reviews, care or direct payments to begin in August – down 9.4% from April.

This reflects a degree of summer recovery – but numbers are still extremely high, Adass said.

And while the number of hours of home care being provided is rising, it said this is being outstripped by the number of hours that cannot be delivered due to staffing capacity.

These factors mean more people are going without the care and support they need, restricting their ability to live full lives, and for some, foreshortening their lives, Adass warned.

Overall, Adass said the social care sector is in a “significantly worse” position than it was going into winter 2021-22.

Its report reads: “This affects all of us, whether we need care, support and safeguards now or could tomorrow, if we care for someone, if we work in care or if we need health care.

“We urgently need resources to avoid restricted and foreshortened lives this winter.

“We also need a realistic, doable plan for the future. At present there is no plan.”

Adass’s Autumn survey comes ahead of Thursday’s budget.

Almost all (97%) of social care directors surveyed said they are pessimistic about the financial outlook for social care and health locally – up from 85% in July.

Referring to reports that key social care reforms could be postponed, Adass said any savings must be used to improve care workers’ pay and conditions, enable more people to receive care and support at home, and support unpaid carers.

Asked what measures could help ease pressures, 90% of directors were in favour of increased funding to allow care staff to be recruited with the same pay rates as comparable jobs in the NHS.

Some 93% called for more funding to be used flexibly at a local level, while 97% said they want to see more financial and practical support given to unpaid carers.

Adass chief executive Cathie Williams (pictured) said: “This is the bleakest autumn survey we have ever had.

“Only a handful of directors have any confidence they may be able to get through the winter with the funding they have and the care workers available locally.

“We were fearful in the summer; we are fearful now.”

She said the sector “desperately” needs more emergency funding, noting that £500 million pledged in September to support hospital discharges this winter has not yet been allocated.

A Government spokesman said: “Social care is a top priority and we are committed to bolstering the workforce and protecting people from unpredictable care costs – backed by £5.4 billion over the next three years.

“We’re also making £500 million available this winter to support discharge from hospital into the community, which can be used flexibly by local health and care systems to target areas facing the greatest challenge.

“We are providing support to unpaid carers with over £291 million to help provide short breaks and respite services as well as additional advice and support.”

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