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Six hundred people a day joining waiting lists to be assessed for care in England

Council leaders have warned that six hundred people a day are joining growing waiting lists to be assessed for care and support in England, as adult social care buckles under unprecedented pressures.

07/08/22

Six hundred people a day joining waiting lists to be assessed for care in England

Almost 300,000 people are now waiting for an assessment of their needs by social workers, an increase of 90,000 (44%) in five months, with one in four waiting longer than six months, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) says.

ADASS has warned that at this rate, the number waiting will hit 400,000 by November – double the total from the previous year.

The latest figures emerged from a count carried out by ADASS through its members in local councils across England. The results were extrapolated from responses from 83 councils (55% of those concerned). On the count date of 30 April, a total 294,449 people were awaiting the first assessment of their care and support needs, of whom 73,792 had been waiting more than six months.

A further 37,447 people who had been assessed as needing a service were waiting for it to begin or for their first direct payment to arrange it for themselves. And 210,106 people receiving a service or payment were overdue for a review under the terms of the Care Act.

In all, 542,002 people were awaiting assessment, review or the start of a service or direct payment – an increase of 37% on an equivalent count in November last year.

The figures come just a week after ADASS published its comprehensive annual Spring Survey of its members and warned that people working in adult social care and those who rely upon it were facing the most challenging winter they had ever faced.

Sarah McClinton, ADASS President, said the findings confirm directors’ worst fears for adult social care.

“The picture is deteriorating rapidly and people in need of care and support to enable them to live full and independent lives are being left in uncertainty, dependency and pain."

Cathie Williams, ADASS Chief Executive, added that one of the reasons why so many are waiting for care is that care providers simply do not have the pairs of hands they need to sustain services.

“Contrary to claims, social care is not being fixed and we need decisive action and funding now to get us through the months ahead and to start to build the foundations of the reformed system that we all want to see.”

The ADASS Spring Survey found that most councils were facing rises in numbers of people seeking support: 87% said more were coming forward for help with mental health issues, 67% reported more approaches because of domestic abuse or safeguarding, and 73% said they were seeing more cases of breakdown of unpaid carer arrangements.

In addition, 82% of councils were dealing with increased numbers of referrals of people from hospitals and 74% were reporting more referrals or requests for support from the community.

Almost seven in 10 ADASS members surveyed said that care providers in their area had closed or handed back contracts. Many more said they could not meet all needs for care and support because of providers’ inability to recruit and retain staff.

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