Latest Public Sector News

07.10.15

Most people who request social care get no direct help

More than half of people who ask for help with care from their councils receive no help at all or are just given information about charities or similar groups instead, new figures show.

There were around 5,000 new requests for adult social care support per day sent to councils during 2014-15, but almost half of these were either unsuccessful or resulted in low levels of support.

Figures released yesterday (6 October) by the HSCIC showed that there were just under two million requests for adult social care support for new clients last year, of which 72% were for users aged 65 and over.

But 28% of these had an outcome of “no services provided”, while 16% saw “ongoing low level of support provided”. Around 12% of cases resulted in short-term support to “maximise independence”.

Only 8% of the nearly two million requests resulted in long-term support. In 31% of cases, people were either given universal service or signposted to other support.

The most common primary reasons for support amongst the long-term elderly social care users was personal care, while for those aged 18 to 64, learning disability support topped the list.

Chris Buttery, responsible statistician, said the figures provided more information about the national social care landscape than what was previously available.

“Councils have worked hard to provide the new data, which will be of use for decision-making both locally and nationally,” he added.

Data from two other reports also released yesterday by the HSCIC showed that the elderly increasingly had to stay in hospital because of a lack of home-based care. The rate of delayed discharges also continued to increase in 2014-15.

Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said: “Every day we hear from older people and families struggling to get the care they need and these statistics explain why. They show different aspects of a social care system in very serious trouble, with ever fewer older people being offered help and worries about the quality of what’s available for those lucky enough to be given a service.

“When the chancellor announces the outcomes of his Spending Review in a few weeks’ time, Age UK looks to him to act to address the growing scandal that is the system of care and support for older people in this country. It is no exaggeration to say its future and the well-being of millions of older people depends on the decisions he makes.”

And Janet Morrison, chief executive of charity Independent Age, said the figures painted an “alarming picture” of social care services “cut back to the bare bones”.

She said: “More than half of people who ask for help from their councils receive no help at all or are given information and then signposted on to someone else – often a charity or community group.

“This is a direct result of £4.6bn cuts to social care budgets since 2010 and comes despite an ageing population which is increasing the need for these services. And as today’s [yesterday’s] figures also show, these cuts often cause increased costs elsewhere – there has been a rise of nearly 20% for those patients being delayed from leaving hospitals on account of social care and other NHS services not being in place.

“Without an honest debate about the true cost of social care this situation looks set to get worse and it is the frail and vulnerable who will lose out.”

Similarly, Izzi Seccombe, of the LGA, said: "We need to see a change to the current perverse funding system which, over the last five years, has seen an increase in funding for the NHS but a decrease in funding for social care.

"This threatens to leave councils struggling to commission the essential support which keeps people out of hospital and living healthier and happier lives in their communities."

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