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Fewer elderly people receiving long-term care despite rising demand

HCI Lead

The number of people receiving long term care has fallen for the last three years, according to figures published by NHS Digital.

new report shows the number of people aged 65 and over receiving long term care fell by 39,060 between 2015-16 and 2018-19. The research, which is based on data supplied by 152 councils, also revealed that requests for adult social support from local authorities rose by 3.8% between 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Gross current expenditure on adult social care by local authorities was £18.7bn in 2018-19, up by £807m on the previous year, a 4.5% increase. Long term support saw the biggest increase, of 4.8%, or £674m, to £14.6bn.

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The average cost of residential care for a person aged 65 and over rose from £604 per week in 2017-18 to £636 per week in 2018/19, while the average cost of nursing care for the same age band increased from £638 per week in 2017/18 to £678 per week in 2018/19.

Dr Alison Giles, Associate Director, Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Too many people in later life don’t get the care they need. We need an urgent solution to the growing crisis in social care.

“Demand is growing and resources are stretched, so right now only those with the highest levels of need get help. The risk is that those with less serious conditions will miss out on the care they need now, leading them to need much greater and potentially more costly support in the long run.

“We desperately need a sustainable funding solution for social care. But we also need to reduce demand by investing in prevention. Disability, frailty and some forms of dementia can be prevented or delayed, so we must put more resource and effort into helping people to stay healthy and independent for as long as possible.”

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, added: “The fact that the numbers of older people are increasing but 40,000 fewer are receiving long term care means that the system is becoming even meaner and leaving more in need to fend for themselves.

“This is cause for very serious concern: how do they cope, especially if they lack family and friends nearby to help, which is by no means uncommon?”

“We know that for some people, obtaining care in the first place in some areas is near impossible. Indeed there are genuine worries that as we look toward next year we are seeing the prospect of total system collapse in the worst affected areas.

“Meanwhile too many older people are living with unmet care needs, a figure that continues to grow.”

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Lee Peart

The author Lee Peart

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