Half of people in care at home have ‘unmet needs’

Over half of older people receiving care at home have unmet needs, a report from a key think tank and a number of social care organisations has today found.

Funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research and conducted by Ipsos MORI in partnership with a number of other social care charities, the report warns that many older people are not receiving adequate care.

The study used information from a survey of older people and in-depth interviews to find out of the quality of care being delivered for older people at home.  

It found that unmet care needs were widespread and often hidden, as older people were forced to try and cope with their own care needs, which ended up taking up all their time and energy for other activities.

Researchers found this was linked to the considerable unmet need for social contact and involvement in interests and activities that came from the difficulties of managing day-to-day life.

In particular, people who lived alone were vulnerable as they lacked the social and practical support offered by having a resident carer.

Though the survey found there was no significant relationship between unmet need and wellbeing, detailed interviews revealed that these two factors were connected in often complicated ways.

In particular, they can be linked through the older person feeling frustration and a loss of purpose, as well as experiencing social isolation when the person’s mobility is restricted.

Ipsos MORI concluded that meeting needs and maintaining wellbeing among older people with care needs is about providing more than just services, but also giving older people access to suitable transport, housing, and social and community networks

“This research shows that the causes of unmet needs for care and support are wide-ranging, and that lack of local authority funding is only one part of the problem,” said Dr Margaret Blake, research director at Ipsos MORI.

“Having timely access to information and advice, being able to plan ahead and save for future care needs, knowing how to access care and support services and understanding that they can have an empowering role in maintaining independence, all have a significant role to play in reducing unmet needs.”

And Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, who were involved in the research, said that the report showed how the country needed a radical rethink on how we are supporting and caring for the most vulnerable members of society.

“There is a human cost to continuing down our current path. To avoid a future where ever-growing numbers of older people end up housebound, coping alone or living their last years lonely and isolated, the government needs to urgently come forward with clear proposals for reforming social care,” she argued.

“A consultation has been promised, but older people and their families now need to see some action.”

Social care at ‘tipping point’

In response, the LGA warned that social care was at a “tipping point” as tightening local government purse strings has meant councils are barely able to provide services for those in need.

“Adult social care is at a tipping point,” said chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board Cllr Izzi Seccombe. “The huge financial pressures councils are under means they are barely managing to provide the care services that support those in greatest need.

“Yet this report reveals a further and wider area of unmet need and highlights why any proposals to reform social care must include a strong focus on prevention and early intervention services.

“Investing in prevention is vital if we are to support people to live independently in the community and avoid the need for more expensive ongoing care and support in future.”

The LGA lead added that adult social care needed to be about much more than just helping people get washed or dressed, but also allow them to live fulfilling and independent lives.

“The £2bn announced by the previous government in the Spring Budget was a step in the right direction,” she said. “But now the government urgently needs to bring forward its consultation for social care announced in the Queen’s Speech, and set out how it will close the £2.3bn funding gap facing social care by 2020, and deliver a long-term sustainable solution.”

Today’s report also follows the Local Government Ombudsman finding that poor social care practice was “letting down” vulnerable adults.

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Amam   22/07/2017 at 10:04

This does not suprise me at all. There is a huge disparity between care available to older people and people with learning disabilities in particular the opportunity to access the community. It is age discrimination of a country wide scale which is brushed under the carpet and accepted.

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