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Care in crisis.

View profile for Kim Daniells
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Research has revealed a quarter of all social workers resort to lying on official forms to get care for the frail elderly

26% of workers carrying out assessments of elderly care needs, admit to deliberately exaggerating how frail they are to meet increasingly strict criteria. Much more alarmingly, a quarter of those questioned claim they are under pressure from management to play down people’s needs to avoid them qualifying for care.

The research was carried out by Age UK and the College of Social Work who said the findings were a dramatic indictment of the crisis in the care system.

Figures show that the number of people receiving social care has dropped by almost 20% over 4 years. However, in the same 4 years there has been a huge increase in the elderly population. So how is it that there are more elderly people, but fewer people receiving care?

It may have something to do with the majority of councils raising care thresholds. There is no suggestion that the need for care has diminished.This is mainly a method of saving money. Council budgets have been cut by almost 33% since 2010 and reductions in social care budgets amounts to £2.7 billion. 

The research also found:

  • 80% of social workers thought that the elderly get less support than they did four years ago.
  • 90% think life will get increasingly difficult for the elderly.
  • 66% have seen elderly people on their books admitted to hospital more frequently with issues that may have been treated through more effective social care.

The results of funding cuts and demographic change are clear to see. Health professionals resorting to “fiddling” the system because they see no other way for elderly people to get the care they need and social workers being pressured by management to exclude vulnerable older people from receiving that care. Neither is acceptable.

It is difficult to see a happy ending to the social care crisis. Extensive cuts have already been made by departments, with more expected to be revealed in the coming weeks. The Government's proposals for social care funding may address the personal finance issue but do not address the national problem.

The failings of the social care system are likely to have a profound effect on the NHS. Vulnerable elderly people lacking the social care they need may be forced to seek NHS support.These same patients may later occupy hospital beds simply because there are no resources to allow them to be safely discharged. For an NHS currently struggling to cope with demand, the implications could be devastating.