The BBC has calculated that spending on care for people aged over 65 has fallen by a fifth in England in the last 10 years, reinforcing the warnings from Age UK that care of the elderly in England is in a state of “calamitous decline”. It compared data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre on funding by councils and Office for National Statistics population data to work out spending figures that reflected the ageing population and their increasingly complex needs.
The research showed that £1,188 per person was being spent on people over the age of 65 in 2003-04 but that figure had fallen by 20% to £951 in 2013-14. Experts are warning that vulnerable people are being failed and parts of the country are struggling to keep pace with the ageing population.
These findings come in the wake of a recent pledge by the Government to set aside £5 billion from April 2015 to encourage greater joint working between the NHS and local council social care services.
Janet Morrison, chief executive of the Independent Age charity, said: "These new figures highlight how the most vulnerable and elderly in our society have been affected by cuts to social care. Older people who struggle with everyday tasks such as washing, dressing and cooking have been badly hit, as social care services have been withdrawn over time. The knock-on effect of this has been to see a greater demand in the NHS and in pinch points like A&E departments”, reports the BBC.
Commenting on the BBC data analysis, Lucie Prothero, an associate at Penningtons Manches who specialises in elderly care claims, said: “We have long been commenting on the worrying cuts in social care funding which play a key part in the increasing pressure on hospitals. We wholeheartedly agree with Ms Morrison’s comments that the squeeze on social care is hitting the vulnerable and elderly in our society.
“We are continuing to see a rise in enquiries from families who are concerned about their elderly relatives’ lack of care. Incidences of poor care include dehydration and malnourishment, pressure sores and avoidable falls. In turn, this adds to the pressure on hospitals, as poor care at the community level can end up with elderly patients needing admissions which might otherwise have been avoidable. The pledge of funding to help improve joint working between the NHS and local councils is a welcome development to try to improve levels and standards of care for the most vulnerable in our society.”