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More than half a million people waiting for social care, report finds

New data suggests that more than half a million people are now waiting for an adult social care assessment, for care or a direct payment to begin or for a review of their care.

17/05/22

More than half a million people waiting for social care, report finds

Directors of adult social services have said that more than half a million people are currently waiting for social care in England.

506,131 people were found to be waiting for assessments, reviews, and/or care support to begin, up from 294,353 people reported as waiting in September 2021.

Responding to a survey carried out in April 2022 for the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), more than six in 10 councils that responded (61%) say they are having to prioritise assessments and are only able to respond to people where abuse or neglect is highlighted, for hospital discharge or after a temporary period of residential care to support recovery and reablement.

The Association, which represents local authority leaders with responsibility for adult social services, says this new evidence shows that despite staff working relentlessly over the last two years, levels of unmet, under-met or wrongly met needs are increasing. The situation is only getting worse, as the growing numbers of people needing care and the increasing complexity of their needs are far outstripping the capacity to meet them.

There is also an even starker rise in the support now needed, with more people left without essential care to maintain their health, and dignity and lead good lives in their communities, the Association says.

In addition to people waiting longer for care assessments, reviews, care packages and personal budgets, family carers are having to shoulder greater responsibility and are being asked to take paid or unpaid leave from work when care and support are not available for their family members. Despite a 16% increase in the number of hours of home care that have been delivered since Spring 2021, a dip from a high of over 41 million hours in Autumn 2021 in the first quarter of this year was felt as staff vacancies and sickness impacted.

Making the focus of resources on acute hospitals, without addressing care and support at home, means people deteriorate and even more will need hospital care. Almost 170,000 hours a week of home care could not be delivered because of a shortage of care workers during the first three months of 2022 – a dramatic seven-fold increase since Spring 2021.

Responding to the findings new ADASS President, Sarah McClinton, said a post-pandemic ‘bounce back’ in services that the sector had hoped for had not come to fruition.

“In fact, the situation is getting worse rather than better.”

“Social care is far from fixed. The Health and Social Care reforms go some way to tackle the issue of how much people contribute to the cost of their care, but it falls short in addressing social care’s most pressing issues: how we respond to rapidly increasing unmet need for essential care and support and resolve the workforce crisis by properly valuing care professionals.

Cathie Williams, ADASS Chief Executive said: “Without action to prioritise care and support in people’s homes and local communities, it will take years rather than months to fully recover.”

“We need a funded plan so that we can ensure that everyone gets the care and support they need, with more of the Health and Social Care Levy being used to fund care and support in people’s homes and communities over the next two years. People cannot wait for funding trickle into adult social care and wider community services."

Read the full report (PDF): https://www.adass.org.uk/media/9215/adass-survey-waiting-for-care-support-may-2022-final.pdf

There were 94 responses to the survey given to all councils with responsibility for adult social care –a 62% response rate. The results are extrapolated to represent figures for 152 local authorities for comparative purposes.

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