By Debbie le Quesne

Older people’s care: It’s where you live that counts and . . . if you’re rich

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Did anyone catch the BBC headlines that said older people are paying the price for cuts to social care?

And the faithful old Beeb added (what so many of us already know), the care and support older people receive increasingly depends on where they live and how much money they have rather than their needs,

Last month a new report by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust laid the facts bare.

Six consecutive years of cuts to local authority budgets, rising demand for services and shortages of staff have left the social care system increasingly unable to meet the needs of the older people who depend on it.

Sadly, the findings also highlight the plight of unpaid carers, saying an unacceptable burden was placed on them. According to the BBC this leaves “rising numbers of older people who have difficulty with the basic activities of daily living – such as washing, dressing and getting out of bed – without any support at all.”

What is happening to us as a society? Mrs Thatcher’s infamous “there is no such thing as society” quote is ringing in my ears.

Evidence is presented that reductions in fees paid by local authorities and other cost pressures such as the National Living Wage are squeezing the incomes of residential and home care providers.

And you’ll never guess . . . it warns that an increasing number of providers are likely to leave the market or go out of business as a result.”

A West Midlands Care Association survey showed that some 50 per cent of home owners were considering selling or closing their businesses. And the picture was not much brighter with the dom-care market with commissioners recognizing there is indded a shortage of community caring.

How have we arrived at this crisis point? I’ll tell you how: Because successive governments have failed to listen to our warnings, and it appears they’re still not listening.

The sum total of what colloquially is known in the Midlands as ‘cocking a deaf ‘un’ is leaving our older citizens without the care they depend on.

The squeeze on the budgets of care providers is also prompting some providers in affluent areas to step back from providing care for people funded by local authorities, leaving those who depend on council funding reliant on an increasingly threadbare safety net.

We have to realise that nearly all private sector providers are running businesses, though it’s my experience that many have charitable hearts and subsequently are managing loss-making care enterprises.

The Beeb also noted: “At the same time, more people are having to pay for their own care as a result of cuts to local authority services.”

Indeed they are.

I cannot recall how many times I’ve spoken of the funding gap between the cost of adequate care and what is paid to my members by local authorities, but catch this . . . “The report highlights a growing funding gap within the existing, inadequate system which will reach at least £2.8 billion by 2019/20 as public spending on adult social care shrinks to less than 1 per cent of GDP. “

There’s a call for the government to be honest, to tell it how it is and if it is unwilling to properly fund and expand the current system, should say so.

Richard Humphries, Assistant Director of Policy at The King’s Fund said is reported online by the BBC as saying: ‘‘The failure of successive governments to reform social care has resulted in a failing system that leaves older people, their families and carers to pick up the pieces. “Putting this right will be a key test of the Prime Minister’s promise of a more equal country that works for everyone – there is no more burning injustice in Britain today than older people being denied the care they need to live with independence and dignity.”

I couldn’t agree more.


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