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‘Intense pressure’ to ration social care for vulnerable people, says report

Staff have described being forced to reduce care packages for elderly or disabled people because of budget pressures.

Social workers are facing “intense pressure” to ration social care for some of the most vulnerable people in society, a report has claimed.

Local authorities are “scrabbling” to fulfil their duties to provide care to the most vulnerable with “grossly insufficient resources”, according to the Care and Support Alliance – a coalition of charities and other organisations.

Staff have described being forced to reduce care packages for elderly or disabled people, or those with mental health needs, because of budget pressures or because local authority support is more restricted.

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(Peter Byrne/PA)

A survey of 469 social workers and other professionals in England who undertake care assessments – which determine whether people are eligible for social care – found that many have “grave concerns” about care being withdrawn.

Some described people being placed in hospital or care homes due to a reduction in support in their own homes.

One worker said: “I had to reduce the care package for three brothers who live together. Each has a mental health problem, physical or learning disability.

“They had a substantial care package for 15 years. It kept them safe from financial abuse and enabled them to live in the community.

“After reducing the care package two of them went into residential care and died. The other was admitted to hospital with dehydration and hypothermia.”

Another added: “A person with hoarding issues and a tendency to eat rotten food had their shopping and housework call cut, resulting in an admission to hospital with food poisoning.”

In the poll, conducted on the Community Care Magazine’s website, 69% of respondents said they felt expected to reduce care packages because of cost pressures in their local authority.

Meanwhile 37% said they believed they could not get people the care they needed.

One worker said: “Care packages are not getting agreed by the funding panel. I am having to submit reduced care packages to the panel in the hope that some support will get funded, as opposed to none.”

The authors of the report wrote: “This report shows that the end results include officials in some local areas coming up with ever more creative and sometimes frankly absurd ways of restricting the ways in which precious social care funding can be spent by individuals in need of support.”

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society and co-chairman of the Care and Support Alliance, said: “Some of the suffering described is sickening and I think decent people in this country will be appalled at how little support is now available for people in need.

“People should be rightly anxious about what this might mean for themselves and their loved ones if they should need help.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We know social workers do incredible work and we want to make sure that everyone, especially older and vulnerable people, receive compassionate care.

“That is why we have enshrined in law in the Care Act that local authorities must assess and meet the needs of people in their area.

“We have provided an additional £2 billion for social care and have committed to consult on the future of social care to ensure sustainability in the long term.”

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