A survey by the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) (*), of nearly 4,000 people who need care or look after someone who does reveals the damning reality of a care system that is visibly failing and unfit for purpose. Those relying on care revealed their experiences of poor care – in the worst cases amounting to neglect – at the hands of a care system that is meant to provide a safety net for them but which often lacks the resources to do so.
The survey revealed, because of a lack of care:
- 1 in 5 felt unsafe moving around their own home, and 4 in 10 can’t leave it.
- 1 in 5 said they’ve gone without meals.
- 1 in 4 said they’ve needed hospital treatment and 1 in 8 told us they’ve been delayed leaving hospital because of not being able to get the care they need.
- Over a quarter have been unable to maintain basics like washing, dressing, visiting the toilet.
- Over 1 in 7 (16%) have had their care packages reduced, even though their needs have increased or stayed the same.
- Over 1 in 5 have not been able to work.
The Alliance is calling on people to add their signature to an open letter to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, highlighting the urgent need for him to act now and in the upcoming Green Paper to fix the care crisis <Insert link>.
Currently 1.2 million older and disabled people are unable to get the care they need, almost double the number since 2010(1). And despite more adults needing care, the number of receiving it has fallen by at least a quarter between 2009/10 and 2013/14 alone (2). A £2.5 billion funding gap is estimated by 2019/20 (3).
This most recent CSA survey highlights the dangers of not having enough care; the unnecessary pressure being placed on the NHS and how family and friends who step in to try to fill the gap are being pushed to breaking point.
The NHS picking up the cost of care creates unnecessary inefficiency – a hospital bed costs £2,800 a week compared to £600 for personal care in a care home and less still for care at home (4).
In the CSA report out today ‘Voices from the social care crisis’, people shared their experiences:
Lorraine Hammond, 47, from Lincoln, tried for years to get her mum good help, but carers at home and in two care homes failed to give her the care she needed. She described common problems, such as “The carers hadn’t been feeding her lunch, they had just been leaving cold soup by her bed.”
Keith Bright, 58, from Norwich said “We’re worried about our situation in the long-term, and can’t see how it can go on like this. We just can’t do this anymore, we’ve spend over £28,000 in five years on social care, and we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK and co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said:
“The experiences of thousands of people in this survey are damning evidence that that our adult social care system is broken and unfit for purpose. It is especially worrying to have heard stories from people whose care has been cut, even though their needs have either stayed the same or got worse. And the reality is that care cuts aren’t saving the Government money, the NHS is picking up the bill as people are pushed into ill health and crisis because of a lack of basic help.
“The Government must provide funding now, as well as focus on future reforms, as essential steps towards getting our care system back on track.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society and co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said:
“Inadequate care is now a common problem across the country and it is those who need care and their families who are paying the highest price. The stories of frustration and heartache we heard are all too common.
“Regardless of someone’s condition or age people should be getting care so they can live safely and with dignity. The Government must ensure the upcoming Green Paper proposes effective ways of meeting the country’s social care needs and urgent funding is also required so stop the widespread poor care and neglect our survey has uncovered.”
|Respondents to the survey said:|
“I haven’t been washed for over two months. My bedroom floor has only been vacuumed once in three years. My sheets have not been changed in about six months, and my pyjamas haven’t been changed this year. My care workers don’t have time for cleaning, washing or changing me.”
“I feel 100% let down and not heard”
“When I was caring for my mother at home getting respite care was very hard – In fact for a long time I didn’t know I was entitled. It’s a lottery as to whether social services give you the information you need about what you are entitled to as a carer.”
“I’ve become a burden to my family, lost many friends and just can’t be the husband and partner, I would like to be. It’s not just me that suffers, but all the family.”
Sally Copley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, commented:
“Once again, the disturbing findings of this investigation confirm that decades of squeezed Government funding has a human price.
“Our helpline is inundated by people with dementia and their families in crisis, from someone forced to choose between a hot meal and wash during a homecare visit, to a woman left with rotten food in the fridge, and unwashed for days at a time, and another who became incontinent because there weren’t enough staff to support her to go to the toilet
“Seven in 10 people in care homes, and almost two-thirds of people who get home care have dementia – the deepening social care crisis is a dementia crisis. With one person developing dementia every three minutes in the UK, we need the Government’s focus on creating a social care system capable of looking after every single person with dementia who needs it, now and in the future.”