Society is ‘devaluing’ the elderly and people with disabilities as delays in social care increase

Council figures show that around 600 people are joining a growing waiting list every day for social care and support in England.

With an unprecedented number of people needing help at home, hospital patients and unpaid caregivers wait months for assessments and critical care, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Aedas) said.

The organization said increased demand, people seeking help in more complex situations and a lack of social care workers are behind “huge” waiting lists.

The reduction in council budgets as a result of austerity, fewer employees due to Brexit, burnout and feeling low post-Covid, and the reopening of alternative economies such as retail and hospitality have also played a part.

Council Care Leads feel that their inability to pay providers enough to give care workers what they deserve is “collectively devaluing” older and disabled people.

Adass has been tracking the number of people waiting for social care, assessments and reviews on a regular basis since November.

Of the 152 councils surveyed, 83 responded to its latest count, in which Adas extrapolated the figures to arrive at national estimates.

Data shared with the PA news agency showed some 294,449 people were awaiting assessments as of April 30, a 44.2% increase over five months.

That’s an increase of 90,208 since November – the equivalent of 600 more people every day on average.

Of these, it is estimated that a quarter (73,792 people) are waiting for more than half a year (up 79.1% from 41,192 in November).

And an estimated 37,447 people are waiting for care, or direct payment, so that they can begin their care arrangements, up 47% over the same time period.

Overall, more than half a million people (542,002) are estimated to be awaiting evaluation, review or care to begin, up 36.9% from 395,845 in November.

(PA Graphics)

The membership organization warned that people are suffering without proper support at home, while some are dying alone.

Family members are being forced to leave their jobs to care for their loved ones as their needs increase, raising fears that poverty will increase in such families as the subsistence crisis deepens, while Relatives receive a “totally inadequate” caregiver allowance. ,

Backlogs are already putting additional pressure on the NHS, with people needing to go to hospital after deteriorating at home.

And those who are ready to be discharged from hospital have to wait longer for a social care package to be arranged that will allow them to stay safe in their homes.

Adas said it is listening to concerns from employers who say they can’t recruit employees or are losing them because people care for family members full-time.

Its recent research found that pressures in the health system, a lack of community services, and the breakdown of unpaid caregivers have led to more people requesting help.

The body is calling for an immediate injection of funds by the House of Commons’ leveling up, Housing and Communities Committee earlier on Thursday, which said the “devastated” sector needs cash before the year ends.

Adas chief executive Cathy Williams told PA that Social Care bosses are “really terrified for this winter” and “can’t see a way out” without government investment.

He believes the “extremely poor” wages of care workers is an injustice to the workers and those they support.

She continued: “There is a real feeling that by not paying employees adequately we are actually devaluing the elderly and disabled people with the care and support needs collectively, so they are second only to everyone else. come.”

Carers UK said family members are providing more care than during the height of the pandemic, and will be unable to cope unless more money is invested in social care services.

Chief Executive Helen Walker said: “Amid the cost of living crisis, large gaps in support are affecting thousands of people’s ability to stay on task and pay their rising bills.

“Many people are being pushed further into poverty.

“With hundreds of thousands of people now awaiting evaluation or service, sustainable funding for social care is essential.”

Age UK said it is “very concerned” that so many people are “just waiting for the first step in what could be a fairly lengthy process”.

Charity director Carolyn Abrahams warned that elderly people waiting alone, without family or friends to step in, would not be safe and would end up in hospital.

“Increasing waiting lists for a care evaluation cause suffering for older people and their families and are a clear possible demonstration that our social care system has failed to cope,” she said.

“One of the biggest problems is the lack of care workers to take care of older people in their homes and there is an urgent need for the government to improve the terms and conditions for these jobs as they have become uncompetitive over the years. “

The Department of Health and Social Care did not say whether it would provide immediate funding to help councils address the backlog.

A spokesman said: “We have made it clear that reforming adult social care is a priority for this government and are investing £5.4 billion over three years.

“This includes £3.6bn to improve the social care charging system and enable all local authorities to move towards paying the fair cost of care to providers, and to initiate major reforms in adult social care in England. for £1.7 billion.

“We applaud all who make up our incredible caring workforce and we are providing at least £500 million to invest in and grow the workforce to ensure they are supported.”