An analysis by Age UK warns that a "catastrophic" situation is developing in England because the proportion of over-65s receiving help has fallen by a third since 2005-6 leaving many vulnerable elderly people without the care they need.
Reported on BBC News, the 2013 data showed that only 10% over-65s received help compared with 15% seven years ago. The review further estimated that at least 800,000 older people were going without vital help at home with daily tasks such as washing, dressing and eating and that there remains a shortage of care home places.
Age UK blamed local council cuts in social care budgets following central government cuts, to the extent that councils have reduced budgets by 15% over the past three years resulting in a “rationing of services”.
Caroline Abraham, Age UK charity director, said: "The figures we have uncovered in this report are catastrophic. Older people who need help and are now not getting it are being placed at significant risk and families who care for loved ones are experiencing intolerable strain.”
Commenting on Age UK’s analysis, Lucie Prothero, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: “The Age UK findings are alarming but sadly, not surprising. It is widely reported that the UK population is ageing and yet social care funding is being squeezed to the extent that vulnerable elderly people are being put at considerable risk.
“We are dealing with an increasing number of cases and enquiries relating to poor standards of elderly care, either in the community setting or in hospitals. For instance, we often act for elderly people who have suffered falls in their homes which can, in many cases, have devastating consequences such as disabling hip fractures, brain injury and even death.
“The problems often stem from an inadequate level of support in the home. These events can result in hospital admissions that would otherwise have been avoidable, thereby placing additional strain on our over-stretched A&E departments. We then see complaints regarding 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.
“I agree wholeheartedly with Caroline Abraham’s comments that the funding cuts do not make financial sense because denying elderly people adequate social care simply increases the risk of expensive hospital admissions. It is clear from our experience of dealing with elderly care claims and enquiries that the health and social care services are in drastic need of additional and appropriately-targeted funding in order to protect the elderly and vulnerable.”