Local Authorities Fail To Supply Adequate Social Care
Local councils are failing to fully provide social care for the vulnerable elderly population of the UK. Live-in care could be a better solution for many.
A recent study conducted by the Family and Childcare Trust has uncovered some staggering gaps in social care, particularly for the elderly. Of the 182 out of 211 councils who responded to the survey, 4 out of 5 of them are struggling to provide services and facilities for the elderly. This equates to around 6.4 million people over the age of 65 who are living in areas without enough care to meet the demand of our growing OAP population.
The lack of specialist dementia care has also been highlighted as a specific concern due to the estimate that around 1 million people will suffer from this illness by 2025. Only a third of local councils are able to offer nursing home places for those with dementia at this time.
Why are we unable to support our elderly sufficiently as a nation? As you might expect, this primarily comes down to an issue of affordability. The government has slashed budgets at a time where demand is growing rapidly. As a result, 52% of the councils surveyed report that they have inadequate availability of home care. Additionally, 56% are not able to provide enough extra care homes where older people can live independently with 24-hour emergency support.
However, a response to these findings from the Department of Health promises more funds by 2020. A representative states “This government is committed to making sure older people throughout the country get affordable and dignified care. That is why we are significantly increasing the amount of money local authorities have access to for social care, by up to £3.5bn by 2020.”
There are some alarming disparities in social care available to the elderly depending on which part of the country they live in. Only 7% of outer London councils are able to supply enough care to meet the needs of older people. Conversely, the North-East of England offers 57% of local authorities who are able to deliver positive services for the elderly in their region.
The cost of providing social residential care is significantly high. The average UK cost of supporting an elderly person in a residential care home is currently £27,113 per year. Areas of Inner London cost around £649 per week for a care home place whereas the lower end of the scale charges £464. One way to reduce the cost and pressure of state funded social care would be to provide live-in carers for elderly people who are vulnerable. Organisations such as Independent People Live In Care provide support for older people within their own homes. Carers live with their host and offer companionship and assistance around the home with general domestic activities such as shopping, cooking and cleaning. At a time where there are such substantial delays in transfers back home following a hospital visit, it would make sense to provide extra live-in care to assist medical institutions in keeping patients supervised and looked after in the comfort of their own homes.
Lack Of Faith
There are currently some extremely distressing stories in the Press regarding the standard of residential care homes in the UK. A recent undercover operation conducted by Panorama has found disturbing levels of neglect amongst two Cornish care homes. Patients were given morphine to get them to ‘shut up’, whilst others were given expired medication or were left on a bedpan for 40 minutes. With an understandable lack of faith in some aspects of the residential care system, live-in care provides the peace of mind that many families need to ensure that their elderly relatives are safe and comfortable at home.