Government-funded care for older people is being increasingly rationed in England, leaving growing numbers to fend for themselves, suggests a joint report from The King's Fund and Nuffield Trust.
The report found that the number of over-65s being helped by councils had fallen by a quarter in the four years to 2014. One million people with care needs now receive no formal or informal help - a rise of 10% in a year. It said the funding outlook for the coming years was "bleak" and ministers needed to reform the system or be honest with the public that government-funded care was extremely limited.
Care is means-tested, with only the poorest getting help to pay for services, including help in the home for daily tasks such as washing and dressing, as well as round-the-clock support in care homes and nursing homes, reports the BBC.
Lucie Prothero, senior associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches who specialises in elderly care cases, said: “Despite the increase in our older population, social care funding is being squeezed to the extent that vulnerable older people are being put at risk.
“We are dealing with an increasing number of cases and enquiries relating to poor standards of elderly care, either in the community or in hospitals. For instance, we often act for elderly people who have suffered falls in their homes. In many cases, these can have devastating consequences such as disabling hip fractures, brain injury and even death.
“The problems often arise from an inadequate level of support in the home. These events can result in avoidable hospital admissions, which place additional strain on our over-stretched A&E departments. We then see complaints of poor standards of medical and nursing care once the older patient is admitted to hospital, often leading to a downward spiral in the person’s health and preventing a return to their homes.
“By further cutting social care, a greater burden is placed on our acute medical services such as A&E departments and ambulance services. We strongly believe that the health and social care services need additional and appropriately-targeted funding in order to protect our ageing population.”