Today campaigners from Age UK will hand in a petition of over 50,000 signatures to Downing Street in a call for Government to put an end to its catastrophic cuts to adult social care. The petition is the latest phase of the charity’s Care in Crisis campaign demanding urgent investment in and reform of the social care system.
The Don’t Cut Care petition, which was launched only in September calls on the Government to invest in community care for older people. Day to day tasks that the rest of us take for granted – like getting dressed, using the toilet, making a meal, or going to the shops – can be almost impossible for many older people without help. Older people should be able to live well, not just survive, and the right care and support can help them do this.
Currently, more than a million older people are left to struggle each day without any support. And this number is growing all the time across the country. Squeezed funding means the pressures on care providers have intensified dramatically and it has become ever harder for them to recruit and retain care staff.
Damaging cuts to funding for care at home mean that many older people are sacrificing their dignity because they can’t get the support they need. This is because unlike GPs or local hospitals, services to help people stay safe and independent at home are mainly arranged by local councils, whose budgets have been subject to stringent cuts for many years now.
Age UK is looking to the Government to take action on three fronts:
– Work with the NHS to strengthen the capacity of GPs and community health services – so older people can get the healthcare they need at home
– Fund local authorities sufficiently for them to rebuild preventive services for older people and offer a lot more social care support – so older people no longer have to struggle alone, putting their health at risk.
Earlier this year the Government announced it was not going to implement the Dilnot cap on care costs, saving the Exchequer an estimated £6bn. Age UK reluctantly agreed this was the right approach, but only on the basis that £6bm would be invested in sustaining social care. Now the Government must fulfil its responsibilities to older people by using the money for this purpose and not diverting it elsewhere.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: “This Spending Review on November 25th is crucial for older people because of the parlous state social care is now in and because community healthcare is under increasing stress too. Many older people depend on both to be able to continue to live independently at home. Yet years of local authority cuts at a time when the population is ageing have substantially weakened the safety net of local community services, throwing older people back on their own resources and meaning a growing number are not being properly looked after at home.
“This is why more and more older people are going into hospital and then getting stuck there – because the follow up health and care support in the community is insufficient. The knock-on effects for older people’s health and quality of life are deeply disturbing, and the impact on hospitals is potentially disastrous too.
“We will judge the success or failure of this Spending Review on firstly, whether it faces up to the seriousness of this situation and secondly, whether it does the right things to resolve it.”