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Social care services 'cut back to the bare bones', says charity boss

Hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled people have their requests for help with social care declined, new figures show.

Just under 1.85 million new requests for adult social care support were dealt with by local councils in 2014/15.

Of these, almost a third (28% or 520,000) resulted in no services provided, while a further 31% (575,000) resulted in the person being "signposted" to other support, such as charities, or to another service such as housing, education or the transport sector.

Some 16% were granted ongoing low level social care support, while 12% were offered short-term support with the aim of maximising their independence.

Only 144,000 requests (8%) resulted in long-term support for the person.

The data for England was published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Janet Morrison, chief executive of the charity Independent Age, said: "Today's figures paint an alarming picture of social care services cut back to the bare bones.

"More than half of people who ask for help from their councils receive no help at all or are given information and then signposted on to someone else - often a charity or community group.

"This is a direct result of £4.6 billion cuts to social care budgets since 2010, and comes despite an ageing population which is increasing the need for these services."

She said the figures showed the cuts were having an impact elsewhere, with more delays for people unable to leave hospital due to social care not being in place.

Of all the requests received by councils, 72% (1.3 million) were for people aged 65 and over while 28% (519,000) related to those aged 18 to 64.

The report defines "no service provided" as including people whose needs do not meet the requirement for support from the council. Other people may choose to pay for care themselves, while some people may be offered help but refuse it.

A separate survey of almost 70,000 people receiving social care found 65% were extremely satisfied or very satisfied with the support they received.

Some 64% received all the food and drink they liked when they wanted, while 31% said they got "adequate food and drink at okay times".

Some 5% said they did not always get adequate or timely food and drink, while 1% said this was a risk to their health.

Overall, 69% said they felt as safe but 26% said they generally felt safe but not as safe as they would like.

Other data showed a rise in delays for people stuck in hospital beds who need transferring to social care or other parts of the NHS.

The average number of delayed transfers of care has risen by 16% since 2013/14.

George McNamara, head of policy at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Every week we hear from people struggling to access good quality dementia care locally, leaving them completely in the dark about where to turn to for help and support. We also know that a lack of local support has led to a huge increase in unnecessary hospital admissions, and early entry into care homes."

Barbara Keeley, shadow care minister, said: "The deep cuts to social care we have seen under this Government are one of the main reasons why the NHS is under so much pressure. Ministers must now take urgent action to address the severe and growing crisis in older people's care."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We are working with councils in better, smarter ways to deal with our growing ageing population - since April our £5.3 billion better care fund has been getting NHS and social care services working together to keep people well and out of hospital.

"Alongside this we are working with local areas to improve the transfer of patients back into the communities."


From Belfast Telegraph