Cuts cause loss of three million hours of home care

A new report by Age UK has shown that the provision of home care services has fallen by a concerning three million hours since 2015.

Behind the Headlines – the battle to get care at home highlights the misery being experienced by many older people and their families as they find themselves ‘trapped in a nightmare of bureaucracy’ and without the help of local authorities who are struggling to meet growing demands for care with ‘deeply inadequate resources’.

Furthermore, the average spend per adult on social care fell 13 per cent, from £439 to £379, over the last seven years, with approximately 400,000 fewer older people receiving social care, as eligibility criteria were tightened by councils desperately trying to ‘square an impossible circle’ of rising demand and falling funds. Many older people cited long waits to get an assessment, care services that are disjointed or simply unresponsive and a fundamental lack of capacity in the system.

Local authorities are found to be unable to provide basic care and support to older people in need of it, creating local ‘care deserts’, which, without urgent action the charity says this situation will only get worse. Age UK has therefore urged the government quickly act to prop up the current system with further substantial investment, as well as introducing proposals for placing care on a sustainable financial footing for the future before the scheduled planned date of later this year.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Three million hours of home care have been lost in the last three years because of government cuts and the lives of many older people have been sharply diminished as a result. Our new report shows the appalling human consequences as councils struggle to do the impossible: meet growing needs for home care with grossly inadequate resources.

“When the care market is so obviously broken, for the sake of older people the government must intervene. Commentators say that Ministers want to give the NHS a 70th birthday present in the form of an enhanced funding deal. Quite right too – the NHS is buckling – but it is essential that they respond to the social care crisis at the same time. This is not only the right thing to do from a moral perspective, it makes good economic sense too: good home care keeps older people fit and well in their own homes and is far cheaper than a spell in hospital or a care home – the typical alternatives.”

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