Half of all older people’s requests for care unsuccessful

New Age UK analysis finds that more than half of requests for formal care and support last year resulted in older people not receiving formal care services.

In the last 12 months, approximately 700,000 requests for formal care and support, equivalent to 51 per cent of all requests, have been made by older people and yet have resulted in them not receiving formal care services. This is equivalent to 2,000 claims from older people being unsuccessful each day, or 80 every hour.

The charity says that these figures show how very difficult it is now to qualify for care within our shrunken social care system: between 2010/11 and 2018/19 total spending on adult social care fell by £86 million in real terms, representing a four per cent reduction in local authority spending. This is alongside the older and disabled population significantly increasing over the same period. This means that social care spending per head of the adult population has fallen by six per cent per person over the same time period.

Age UK’s new report, Behind the Headlines: Battling to get care, describes the social care system as being ‘woefully inadequate for the job now required of it, despite the best efforts of the good people working in it’.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK's charity director said: “The fact that 2,000 older people are being turned down for care every day demonstrates both the enormous numbers impacted by our ramshackle care system, and how serious the problems it faces have now become. We don’t know what happens to these older people whose applications are rejected but inevitably some have no choice but to struggle on alone. Good social care helps to keep older people fit and well, so if you are forced to go without it’s a recipe for emerging health problems to turn into crises, possibly leading to a hospital stay that might otherwise have been avoided and a decline in your health from which you may never fully recover.

“Faced with too much demand and too little supply, our social care system is effectively under siege. Councils do their best with the resources they have but there are simply not enough to go round. One result is this vast number of older people whose applications for help are rejected and another the long waits for an assessment to have your case looked into at all. Our report is heart-rending stories of older people in need who are being comprehensively let down, and the nightmarish situations created for them and their families. Real suffering is going on, with older people’s lives being diminished and, in some cases we fear, being cut short. The Prime Minister has promised to fix social care and our new report shows why it’s so vital for our older population that he keeps his word. For some, tragically, it is already too late.”