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By Debbie le Quesne

Latest survey damning over care fund costs

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Well, what a surprise! Care for older people has been suffering because of funding cuts, a survey of 200 social workers suggests.

And they say both quality and quantity is missing.

In the survey by Age UK and the College of Social Work, more than 85 per cent of those taking part said they had seen the impact of cuts in the past year.

Of those, 95 per cent said the cuts in England presented “a risk to the dignity of their older clients”.

I’d say it does and this has been a familiar mantra from the association for a number of years now.

The Department for Health claims the care of older people is a priority and we can read that statement nearly every day in one publication or another.

But still councils across the country face a funding squeeze under the coalition’s spending cuts.

Since 2004, social care funding has stagnated, and then decreased, according to Age UK. This is despite an increase of more than 250,000 people aged 85 or over, the group most likely to require social care.

At the end of 2012, the charity said the funding given this year was half a billion pounds less than when the coalition came to power in 2010.

This must be another part of the part of the big picture of “we’re all in this together.” Excuse my sarcasm here, but the findings of this survey are damning.

As well as concerns about the dignity of older clients, some 70 per cent of respondents “expressed a lack of confidence that local authority-funded older clients always received the right quantity and quality of social care”.

And the other findings?

  • 65 per cent of the social workers reported a rise in emergency re-admissions among older clients over the past year
  • a rise in charges for day care centres, home care and community transport, according to 70 per cent
  • less face-to-face time with clients, according to 65 per cent
  • an increase in workload, according to 89 per cent.

Age UK have been reported as saying that the findings shed an important light on the scale of current underfunding and shows that cuts to front-line services are having a severe impact on those older people struggling to live with chronic illness and disability.

It is calling on the government to address the funding shortfall and I am happy, on behalf of my members, to join the chorus.

It does not take a deal of intellect to realise demand increases as cash for services diminishes. The not-so-hidden cost is clearly shown in this latest work. Surely, it would be more cost effective to ensure crises do not develop.

For reasons that escape most of us in the care sector, the government believes it can maintain healthy levels of care while driving costs down further.

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