Fewer elderly receive help at home

A charity is warning that elderly people in desperate need of support in their homes are facing cuts as new figures show a dramatic drop in the numbers given help.

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Elderly people in desperate need of support in their homes are facing cuts, a charity has warned

A charity is warning that elderly people in desperate need of support in their homes are facing cuts as new figures show a dramatic drop in the numbers given help.

Age UK said hundreds of thousands of people need support with "basic tasks" such as washing and dressing but do not get it as local authorities continue to restrict access to social care.

New figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show a substantial drop in the numbers given help and the numbers actually being assessed - despite almost static demand.

A total of 1.3 million adults received social services in England in 2012/13, a 9% drop on 2011/12 and 25% on 2007/8.

Among the 1.3 million people receiving help, 1.1 million received services in the community (a fall of 10% on 2011/12), while 209,000 received residential care (down 2% on 2011/12). A further 87,000 received nursing care (less than a 1% change on 2011/12).

The number of new enquiries made to council social service departments in 2012/13 was 2.1m (down less than 1% from 2011/12, but up 1% from 2007/08).

The figures showed far fewer people are being assessed than in 2007/08.

Following enquiries, there were 603,000 assessments for new clients in 2012/13 (down less than 1% from 2011/12 but down 9% from 2007/08).

Two-thirds (67%) of assessments resulted in the person receiving services (a decrease of less than 1% from 2011/12).

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "These figures show how increasingly desperate the care crisis is, with the numbers of people receiving care falling, as are the number of people actually being assessed to see if they need support.

"It's clear that frontline cuts are leaving older people struggling on alone whilst living with chronic illnesses and disability.

"We already know that there are hundreds and thousands of older people who need help with basic tasks such as washing, dressing or cleaning their teeth and who do not receive it.

"As local authorities continue to restrict eligibility for the people with highest needs the situation looks bleaker than ever. Those older people unable to access care are being denied their dignity and peace of mind at the point of greatest vulnerability.

"The care system is fragmenting and nothing will change until the Government accepts the fact that the funding system has failed and acts so that adequate funds are made available. Legislative reform is vital but pointless with insufficient funding in place."

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: "Social care is a priority for the Government, which is why we have allocated an extra £200m for 2014/15 to help local authorities maintain access to services and created a £3.8bn budget for health and social care.

"This investment in a joined-up approach will help people to stay healthy and independent at home.

"Councils are best placed to decide what services are needed in their area but we are clear that they must use resources effectively to ensure that the care people receive meets their needs and gives them more control over their daily lives."

HSCIC figures show that 67% of assessments resulted in the person receiving services in 2012/13.

In 2007/08, more assessments (72%) resulted in people receiving services.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope and chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said: "This is further evidence of a social care system on its knees and in desperate need of reform.

"Chronic underfunding has seen hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people lose their support for even basic tasks like getting up, preparing meals and doing the shopping.

"Without that support, older and disabled people become isolated, fall into crisis and end up in A&E.

"The Government has put forward strong proposals in its Care Bill, which will greatly improve a social care system which is on its knees. But it's becoming clear that a huge number of older and disabled people will not see any of the benefits of the new system because of plans to tightly restrict who gets care."