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Thursday, 06 September 2018

Chronic under-funding leaving elderly care 'on brink of collapse', charity warns

Written by Ella Pickover

Care for the elderly is "on the brink of collapse", a charity has warned.

A new report from the charity Independent Age states that chronic under-funding of social care in England means that older people are being "increasingly let down" by the system.

It suggests that if current trends continue, access to social care will "predominantly become a service based on ability to pay, and many older people will be left to fend for themselves and forced into crisis".

The charity has called for older people to get free access to personal care - initially based on current eligibility criteria, but in the future for it to be available to all older people in need in England.

Personal care includes help with everyday activities, including things such as getting in and out of bed, getting dressed, preparing a meal or shopping.

A poll, conducted on behalf of the charity, found that the majority of adults in England would support paying more in tax or a lump sum to fund free personal care.

The survey of 2,000 English working age adults, found 74% support free personal care for everyone who needs it.

And more than two-thirds of adults in England (69%) said they would be willing to pay more tax to provide free personal care for all.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said: "Many older people are being let down by a social care system in crisis that is failing to meet their needs.

"Giving older people the right to free personal care would change that. Not only is it what people want, but they are also willing to pay a bit more tax to get it.

"Free personal care would significantly reduce the number of older people marooned in hospital due to lack of available personal care, support the joining-up of health and social care support and ultimately enable many more older people to live independently and stay in their own homes for longer."

Commenting on the analysis, Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "Work to find a long-term funding solution for adult social care and support has been kicked into the long grass by successive governments for the past two decades and has brought these services to breaking point.

"Adult social care services face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care, despite councils protecting adult social care relative to other services."

Labour's shadow care minister Barbara Keeley said: "While nearly half a million people are getting less publicly funded care and 1.4 million older people going without care at all, the Tories have chosen to kick the can down the road with an unnecessary and much-delayed Green Paper.

"By contrast, Labour has pledged to invest £8 billion across this Parliament to ease the crisis and to place a lifetime cap on care costs so that no-one pays catastrophic costs as they do now."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "Our green paper due in the autumn will set out plans to reform the social care system, including funding, to make it sustainable for the future."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.