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Older people: “This sobering report highlights the perilous state of our social care services”

A high profile report has revealed that the under funding of social care is leaving older people without adequate support, and suggests reform is needed.

Ruth Thorlby, Deputy Director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust

“No one can predict whether they will have care needs later in life. But if they do find they need help with the basics – eating, washing, going to the toilet – most will discover that unlike a health problem where care is free, they somehow have to manage themselves.

“Our research found that local authorities have done their best to make savings while protecting funding for the poorest, but care providers are struggling on the low fees councils can afford. Shortages of home care staff and affordable care home places mean older people are often stuck in hospital, putting both their lives and vital NHS processes on hold.

“The number of older people needing care is increasing and yet we are continuing to put less money in. Unmet need is rising, providers are threatening to pull out of contracts, the wellbeing of carers is deteriorating, access to care is getting worse. A Government that wants to create ‘a country which works for everyone’ should not tolerate the oldest and most vulnerable falling into a social care system riddled with holes.”

RCP president Professor Jane Dacre

“This sobering report highlights the perilous state of our social care services. At a time of their lives where they should be confident that they will be looked after compassionately and comprehensively, older people should not be bearing the brunt of cuts to social care.

“The report describes the ‘increasingly threadbare safety net’ for those relying on council services alone, a situation which also highlights increasing inequalities in health in the UK.

“The report identifies that cuts to primary and community care are undermining attempts to keep people independent and in their own homes. When these systems fail, it often results in prolonged hospital admissions, creating a vicious circle. The NHS also faces a daily struggle to find appropriate services for older people who no longer need to be in hospital.

“We must all work together to create joined-up, properly funded and organised services to give older people the care they deserve.”

Phil McCarvill, Deputy Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation

“Insufficient social care funding is now the most urgent threat to the NHS and the wider health and care system.

“In August we told a Commons Select Committee that too little money is being provided for social care and this is putting increasing pressure on the NHS.

“In the run up to last year’s Spending Review we urged the Government to stop seeing the NHS, social care and public health as three separate funding streams and instead view them as part of a single system.

“If we are to truly join up health and care then we need to support people to receive the care when and where they need it. Inadequate funding in one part of the system has a profound impact on the other parts to deliver the right care. Without this, local coordination and planning will become increasingly disjointed and the care individuals receive will suffer.

“Our members in, partnership with social care organisations are working hard to transform services in their local communities but it’s vital that the government supports this work by providing the funding social care so desperately needs.”

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