Elderly care ‘in danger of collapse’

Elderly people are in danger of being stripped of their dignity
Elderly people are in danger of being stripped of their dignity
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Elderly people are in danger of being stripped of their dignity and assets because of a failure to tackle how care is funded, a survey says.

Social care experts have warned older generations could be left in limbo because the Government is failing to plan for the care of a rapidly ageing population.

The findings are part of a survey carried out by the Local Government Association (LGA), in which more than 80 council leaders, charity directors, directors of adult services, chief executives and social care experts took part.

Results revealed more than four in five experts (83 per cent) believe that government plans have so far failed to move towards a system that provides sufficient funding.

In addition, nearly nine in 10 (88 per cent) say the proposals do not address the funding needed to meet the demographic pressures facing the country, which the LGA estimates will add a further £2bn to the annual care bill by 2015. This is in addition to the £1.89bn reduction in social care budgets councils are already facing.

The timetable for reform is also called into question with almost two in three people (62 per cent) saying the proposed timetable does not recognise the urgency of the problem or commit to immediate action.

Council leaders are now warning that continued failure to tackle how care will be funded is leaving older people and their families facing financial uncertainty and at risk of losing their dignity.

Councillor David Rogers, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “The current care system is in danger of collapsing.

“Unless we see urgent action the growing funding crisis threatens our ability to provide basic daily services that older people rely on such as help with washing, getting out of bed, and meals on wheels.

“We are deeply concerned that failure to properly fund adult social care is leaving people in limbo and threatening the dignity and independence of the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on council support and just want to live comfortably and without a lifetime of worry.”

Mr Rogers said reform of the system was necessary to provide peace of mind for the elderly and their families and to avoid people having to spend their savings.

He went on: “But this issue goes beyond providing care to elderly and disabled people. By the end of the decade councils may be forced to wind down some of the most popular services they provide, such as leisure centres, parks and road maintenance, unless urgent action is taken to address the crisis in adult social care funding.

“The coalition says it understands the need for reform. Now it’s time for Government to make the financing of social care a priority, to show that politicians really do care, and create a social care system we can be proud of for generations to come.”

The results highlight concern around how care and home help services in England will be paid for and summarises the sector’s response to the Government’s care and support white paper.

But the figures show there is consensus that the white paper is moving in the right direction on some areas.

The survey is set to be launched at the largest national conference on adults’ services later this week. Other findings show:

n 89 per cent do not believe the white paper provides enough money for reform of the system;

n 67 per cent say it does not incentivise a move to more cost effective early intervention work;

n 69 per cent of respondents said the proposals take a positive step in recognising the valuable contribution of informal carers, such as when a family member looks after an elderly relative;

n 48 per cent believe it moves towards a system that encourages people to live healthily, and in turn prevent the onset of avoidable and expensive long-term conditions later in life.