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Thousands of older people miss out on care from councils – report

The number of people with social care needs receiving long-term care in England has fallen every year since 2015/16.

The number of people with social care needs receiving long-term care in England has fallen every year since 2015/16, data shows (Joe Giddens/PA)
The number of people with social care needs receiving long-term care in England has fallen every year since 2015/16, data shows (Joe Giddens/PA)

By Jane Kirby, PA Health Editor

Around 39,000 fewer older people are receiving long-term care from councils than in 2015/16, despite a rise in demand, figures show.

The number of people with social care needs receiving long-term care in England has fallen every year since 2015/16, to 841,850 in 2018/19.

This has been mainly driven by a drop in those aged 65 and over, down 39,060 to 548,435.

NHS Digital published three reports on social care for people of all ages, including the elderly and those with physical and learning disabilities.

The data revealed that local authorities received 1.9 million requests for adult social care support from new clients in 2018/19 – the equivalent of 5,245 requests for support each day.

This is an increase of 3.8% since 2017/18 – an extra 195 requests a day.

The report found that local authority spending on adult social care rose to £18.7 billion in 2018/19 – which NHS Digital described as a real-terms increase of 2.6%.

The average cost of residential care for a person aged 65 or over rose from £604 per week in 2017/18 to £636 in 2018/19, while the average cost of nursing care for this age group also rose, from £638 per week to £678.

A poll of 68,745 people receiving social care as part of the package found that almost two-thirds (64.3%) were very or extremely satisfied with the care and support they received, while 2% were very or extremely dissatisfied.

Of those in residential care homes, 58.5% said they had as much social contact as they wanted with people they liked.

But those in the community were less likely to say this (41.9%), and they also had the highest levels of feeling socially isolated (7.3%).

The £1.5 billion funding injection announced in the spending round last month won’t even be a sticking plaster, given the state of disarray our social care system is in Claudia Martinez

For those with little social contact who felt isolated, 36.7% said they were extremely anxious or depressed.

Meanwhile, 63.9% of people in the community felt safe, lower than the 86.5% in care homes and 82.3% in nursing homes.

Of those who felt safe, 4.3% said they did not do anything they valued or enjoyed with their time, but this figure jumped to 43.7% of those reporting feeling unsafe.

Among carers, 32.5% had as much social contact as they would like, while only 38.6% were satisfied with social services.

Claudia Martinez, from the Reform think-tank, said: “The demand of council care services is rising and we have yet to see anything from the Government that resembles a sensible, sustainable solution to this perennial crisis.

“The £1.5 billion funding injection announced in the spending round last month won’t even be a sticking plaster, given the state of disarray our social care system is in.

“We need a long-term solution. Government must press ahead with an insurance system in which working-age people contribute part of their salary to a later-life care fund.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said:  “The Government’s proposals on the future of adult social care brought forward in the Queen’s Speech need to be substantive and must be brought forward as soon as possible.”

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