Many elderly people not getting help with basic care, Age UK report finds


Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are not receiving the help they need to get out of bed, dress or eat, according to a new report.

The study from Age UK found a massive drop in the number of people eligible for social care, leaving many to fend for themselves or relying on family and friends.

Its research shows more than 200,000 people across England are thought to receive no help with bathing despite needing it, while more than 140,000 receive no help with getting in and out of bed and more than 400,000 get no help with dressing.

Some 24,000 need help with eating but don't receive it, while more than 78,000 are left with no help getting to the toilet.

Almost 2.3 million people aged 65 and over have difficulty with at least one activity of daily living, the report said, but 1.2 million do not receive the support they need.

This represents an 18% increase on last year and a 48% increase since 2010.

In 2005/06, 15.3% of older people received social care support but this dropped to 9.2% in 2013/14.

The report also warned that England was living on "borrowed time in saving social care for older people from complete collapse".

It predicts things will get a lot worse in the coming years as more care home providers pull out of the market and budget cuts mean more restrictions, despite rising demand from an older population.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK's charity director, said: "Our new report makes for frightening reading because it shows just how fragile older people's social care now is.

"Even worse, unless something changes, the crisis will certainly deepen this year and next, and we think there is now a real risk of a complete collapse in social care in the worst affected areas.

"If this happened it would be a disaster that would threaten the health and even the lives of the older people affected. It would also greatly intensify pressures on our hospitals."

The charity wants to see an "emergency injection of funds" into social care in the upcoming Budget and a long-term plan for its sustainability.

Margaret Willcox, president elect of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: "This report is extremely worrying, yet unsurprising, and reflects the concerns of the whole sector united in the belief that adult social care is at risk of failure to chronic underfunding.

"With councils projecting a total overspend on adult social care of nearly £450 million by the end of this financial year, increases in demand and cost of social care, providers closing, a rising ageing population and those living with increasingly complex needs, immediate, significant, long-term and sustainable funding is needed to stabilise a care market in crisis.

"Only genuine new money will solve the crisis which will only get worse whilst we wait for a solution.

"Until this time, more older and disabled people will not get the dignified support they rely upon, an even greater toll will be placed on the 6.5 million family members and other carers, increasing pressures will be placed on our hospitals and even more care homes will close, leading to growing gaps and failures in the care market."

A Government spokeswoman said: "We recognise the pressures of an ageing population, which is why we are giving local authorities access to £7.6 billion of new money for adult social care.

"This Government has gone further to integrate health and social care than any other before it.

"We have brought budgets together for the first time through the Better Care Fund and given the NHS an extra £10 billion per year by 2020/21 to fund its own plan to build a more responsive, modern health system.

"But this is not solely about money, which is why we are working to find a long-term, sustainable solution which helps local authorities learn from each other to raise standards across the whole system."