By Debbie le Quesne

Shocking facts on care failure

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The latest edition of Caring Times presents some worrying, though predictable statistics: More than 90 per cent of social workers fear life will become more difficult for older people because of frontline cuts in social care.

The figures are from an Age UK/College of Social Work survey.

Seven out of 10 respondents said cuts in frontline services were leaving older people more isolated and with a reduced quality of life, while 80 per cent saying the spending cuts were resulting in families unable to cope with the additional strain of caring responsibilities.

I quote the article: “In the joint survey of more than 300 adult care social workers . . .  94 per cent said they had witnessed a squeeze on budgets for care services for older people over the last three years. And the cuts have not all been absorbed by efficiencies with 85 per cent of respondents saying frontline services had been affected.”

The report adds: ”There was a wide consensus from social workers (81per cent) that they are seeing negative impacts of cuts in social care spending for example reporting seeing families unable to cope with caring responsibilities. Social workers also report seeing older people ending up in hospital more frequently (63 per cent), older people becoming more isolated (71 per cent) and having a reduced quality of life (72 per cent).”

I am always wary of survey information, but these findings are truly awful and appear to be a clear representation that current Government policy on care cuts is failing.

Where local authorities have frozen or reduced spending on adult care services in the last three years, the vast majority of social workers who responded to the survey (93.5 [per cent) said they now see older people who would have qualified for care three years ago now not receiving it, with 79 per cent of respondents saying older people whose needs had not changed get less help now than they would have done in 2010.

The survey also showed that “Fair Access to Care Services criteria – in which older people’s care needs are assessed as low, moderate, substantial or critical – were being used by local authorities to reduce care spending with one in five respondents saying that they were under pressure to minimise levels of need of older people so putting them under the eligibility threshold.”

So it appears our social workers are now, by default, auditors. I wonder how many of them came into the profession to “minimize levels of need.”

Where are the screaming headlines in the ‘red-tops’; where are the thought-provoking columns on this survey in the more measured Press?

Oh, of course, it’s the elderly again and obviously as one of the largest emerging people groups in the UK – and perhaps with the greatest social needs – they are just not newsworthy.

Perhaps I should scribble a headline or two myself: ‘Care system failing our elderly’ . . . or perhaps something a little more barbed like ‘Our national shame’.


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