Thousands of older and disabled people are struggling without enough, or no help, as care workers, managers and councillors continue to make increasingly tough and challenging decisions in order to make a staggering £7 billion of savings.
According to The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), they still need to find a further £700 million for 2019/20, just as demand and needs are rising.
In its annual budget survey of members, ADASS revealed how the failure of successive governments to address long-term funding for adult social care is negatively affecting the people who rely on these essential services, their families and those who work in the arranging and delivery of care.
Care home closures will impact the NHS
In an illustration of the scale of the crisis, a fragile and failing care market has seen more than 7,000 people affected by care home closures and home care providers closing or ceasing to trade in the last six months, more than double the number affected last year. Behind each and every one of these closures, there is an individual whose care has been directly affected, with consequences for both themselves and their families.
Lack of certainty from the government about continued funding for adult social care from April 2020 onwards, including the Better Care Fund and Improved Better Care Fund which provides more than £5 billion, will force Directors of Adult Social Services and their councils to make incredibly difficult decisions. These could include giving notice to providers, such as care homes and home care services whom older and disabled people depend on unless we urgent clarity is received on future funding by September this year.
This will also have a significant impact on the NHS, including more admissions and greater demand on hospitals due to a lack of support at home, despite the stated aims in the NHS Long Term Plan. Reductions from Continuing Health Care (CHC) will add even further pressures on the health service.
A high proportion of councils (87%) have continued to experience pressure from increased hospital admissions, while 60% of directors surveyed say demand for social care as a result of premature or inappropriate discharge is a cause for concern.
In the survey, an overwhelming majority of adult social care directors said they felt “fairly or very pessimistic” about the financial state of the wider health and social care economy in their area over the next 12 months, an increase on the previous year’s survey. Only 10% said they felt optimistic, a reflection of directors’ disappointment at a continued failure by the government to publish a long-delayed and desperately needed green paper on the future of social care.
Emergency one-off funding will not meet requirements
Emergency, one-off funding injections have not been enough to give directors confidence in their ability to meet future requirements, with an estimated 1.4 million people aged 65 and over with unmet needs according to Age UK. Continuing financial uncertainty is also making it difficult for councils to commit to longer-term solutions needed to prevent people from requiring care in the future.
ADASS is calling on the Government to provide the following:
- A long-term, sustainable funding solution for adult social care
- Funding from the Spending Review to be for at least two years and to continue until whatever is in the promised Green Paper can be produced and implemented
- Adequate funding to meet an increasing number of people’s needs in the ways they want
- A proper debate with the public about the priority of social care
- A continued focus on recruitment and retaining of a caring, skilled and valued workforce
- A vibrant care market which gives people choice and control
- Investment in new, asset-based approaches and prevention
President of ADASS, Julie Ogley, said: “Older and disabled people need dignified, high-quality care and support. We know that when this is properly resourced, it works. Every minute of every day, heroic care staff are making an essential difference to the lives of the people they look after. Many receive great care and support throughout and to the end of their lives.
“Sadly, however, as this budget survey shows, we are still desperately lacking the sustainable, long-term funding needed to provide vital services that will support people to live as independently and healthily as possible
“Too many older and disabled people and their families still struggle without getting the help they need. Social workers, managers and councillors are having to make incredibly difficult decisions based on dwindling resources, which should not be allowed to happen in a modern, compassionate society."