Every day in the UK, hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people are left alone, unable to get up, wash, dress and eat.
This has led to the inevitable range of heart rending statistics – one of the most shocking, that record numbers of pensioners are being taken to hospital suffering from malnutrition.
In 2009/08 there were less than 3,000 such cases. In 2017/18, there were over 8,500.
Over the last decade the population has continued to age, and the Tories have consistently cut real terms funding for social care. In fact experts estimate it would take £8 billion a year in England alone to take care back to 2010 levels.
This means that local councils have been forced to tighten eligibility criteria to only the most drastic cases. The result? 1.4 million people who desperately need social care either don’t get enough help, or none at all.
The problems is only going to get bigger – getting care levels back to 2010 levels and introducing free personal care will cost £29bn more a year by 2030 than is currently spent.
The problem is undoubtedly complex, but the first step needed from our politicians is simple – a firm commitment to do whatever it takes to give people the care they need.
This commitment is conspicuous by its absence. Way back in the March 2017 budget the Tories said they would publish a Green Paper on Social Care – the publishing of that paper has now been delayed 5 (yes, five) times as the Tories rip themselves apart over Brexit.
What has happened in that time?
Statistics from Age UK show that in time since that paper was promised:
- Over 50,000 older people have died waiting for care to begin.
- £500 pe minute is wasted by the NHS through delayed discharge due to lack of social care
- Over 1,000,000 older people have developed an unmet need
- 200,000 paid social care roles have become vacant
- 2,000,000 older people have become carers
Social Care requires a complete overhaul if it is ever going to meet the needs of society’s most vulnerable. We need the Government’s green paper now to begin the introduction of free social care as quickly as possible.