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One in ten older people reducing or stopping their social care or planning to do so

A new poll for charity Age UK finds older people are reducing or stopping their social care, or expect to do so in the coming months, as they struggle with the cost of living, storing up big problems for the NHS.

08/11/22

One in ten older people reducing or stopping their social care or planning to do so

One in ten older people in the UK either are or are planning to reduce or stop their social care due to the cost-of-living crisis, new research has warned.

New polling from Age UK finds that 10% (1.6 million) of over-60s in the UK are already cutting back or stopping their social care or expect to do so in the months to come, because they can’t afford the cost.

The charity says this particularly affects older people who pay for their own care, but in England even those whose care is funded by the state often must pay ‘top ups’ to their provider.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK said the findings were “alarming”.

“This is potentially disastrous because if you are an older person with care needs, this support is not a ‘nice to have’ but essential in enabling you to stay fit and well.

“Cutting back or stopping care in this situation threatens to pile extra pressure on the NHS, our hospitals especially, as it greatly increases the chances of serious ill health and injury.

“That’s why the Government must restore the triple lock and raise both benefits and social care funding in line with inflation at next week’s Fiscal Statement. There’s no doubt that not to do so would be a false economy so far as the NHS is concerned, as well as severely jeopardising older people’s health. The new government must understand just how high the stakes now are.”

The findings come amid wider turmoil in the adult social care sector, evidenced in a new report from the charity, which seeks to answer the question: ‘Why Can’t I Get Care?’.

Analysis of data in the NHS Digital Adult Social Care Activity and Finance Report data for 2020-2021 finds that up to 14,000 people each week are having their requests for care turned down by councils, most of which are overwhelmed by growing demand and have only static or reducing resources with which to respond. In addition to this, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) warned earlier this year that there was a 28% increase in the number of people awaiting assessment, care or direct payment, or a review.

Speaking at the National Children’s and Adults Services Conference (NCASC) last week, ADASS President Sarah McClinton said the scale of the challenges facing local authorities was “staggering”.

“Our surveys show there are over half a million people waiting for care, waiting to be assessed, waiting for care to be arranged or waiting for their reviews to happen. The scale of how many people are either not getting the care and support they need, or are getting the wrong kind of help, at the wrong time and in the wrong place is staggering,” she told the audience.

Responding to the ‘Why Can’t I Get Care?’ report from Age UK, Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr David Fothergill said: “It is extremely concerning to hear reports of older people either reducing or having to consider stopping their social care because of financial concerns, particularly as we enter the colder months.

“Ensuring people can stay independent, warm and healthy in their own homes for as long as possible, is essential for not only ensuring people of all ages are able to live the lives they choose, but for preventing a build-up of demand on NHS in the long-term.

“Preventative measures within social care play a crucial role in councils’ wider efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of local populations, however prevention spending is under pressure because of the scale of financial stresses on adult social care.

“Investment in preventative measures is key to delivering savings and improving people’s health and independence. But this cannot and will not happen without adequate funding.”

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