Seven in ten authorities in England dealing with growing demand for mental health issues

Adult social services are facing a deluge of requests for help with mental health, as well as care and support from older people and disabled people, directors of services are warning.

15/06/21

Seven in ten authorities in England dealing with growing demand for mental health issues

Almost seven in ten (68%) social services directors in England say they are dealing with growing demand for help with mental health issues, a new survey has found.

The ADASS Activity Survey of local councils responsible for adult social services has found they face sharply rising numbers of people coming forward for help.

Directors say they fear that people will have to wait longer for less care and support unless the Government steps in with more funding and launches its long-awaited social care reforms.

In addition to the reported increases in demand for mental health support, almost six in ten (57%) say more people with care and support needs are seeking help to escape domestic violence or other abuse. More than a third (35%) report rising numbers of rough sleepers needing support.

Stephen Chandler, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said the numbers reported by directors are “phenomenal”.

“The trends are unsustainable and show why the Government must publish its plans for social care as a matter of urgency.”

“Our findings demonstrate very starkly that the crisis in social care is not just a crisis in the way we support older people. Half our spending is on help for adults of working age.”

The survey was carried out in March and April and was completed by nearly two-thirds of all councils in England with responsibility for adult social services. Directors were asked how need for care and support compared with last November, less than six months previously.

Two thirds (68%) of directors also noted that more people were being referred for support from the community, with almost half of them reporting a rise of more than 10% over the six months.

The findings point to the strain that family carers have been under during the pandemic. The majority of directors (67%) said they were seeing more people seeking help because of breakdown in carer arrangements.

The survey also shows the inter-dependence of social care and the NHS in the wider health and care system. Half of the responding directors (48%) said they were being asked to support more people awaiting admission to hospital and three quarters said they were dealing with more people being discharged and asking for help from their local council.

Stephen Chandler said adult social care had “stepped up” during the pandemic and is providing care and support both for many more people who have been unable to get admission to hospital and for many more who have been discharged.

“Without social care, the NHS would collapse,” Chandler said.

ADASS is calling on the Government to start to outline its promised plans for social care reform before the Summer parliamentary recess next month, asking for a 10-year plan for social care in parallel with that for the NHS, and a guarantee of funding to enable social care to deal with rising need for care and support while reform is put in place.

The ADASS survey was conducted between 19 March and 21 April. It was completed by 91 directors of a total 152.

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