The health of more than a quarter of people with social care needs has deteriorated during the pandemic, according to new research.
The study of 4,005 Britons found that 28% have experienced a decline in health, with one in seven (14%) needing hospital treatment during the crisis due to a lack of care.
The research was carried out by the Care and Support Alliance (CSA), a coalition of more than 70 UK charities, including Mencap, Red Cross and Age UK.
It also found that due to a lack of care during the pandemic, 32% people with social care needs had felt lonely; more than one in 10 (12%) had been able to get food or shopping; 11% had been able to work; 10% were often worried about how to cope and stay safe; and 9% had missed medical appointments.
In addition, 31% of those who said they had difficulties carrying out day to day activities said they never got any help or assistance, while one in four said they had asked the authorities for help during the pandemic but hadn’t received any.
Some 17% of unpaid carers who took part in the survey said their health had deteriorated because of their caring responsibilities.
The CSA said that the results of the survey show how a lack of social care “undermines people’s health, displaces pressure onto the NHS and makes it difficult or impossible for older and disabled people and their unpaid carers to live fulfilling lives”.
Before the pandemic, Age UK estimated that at least 1.6 million older and disabled people were lacking the care they needed.
The alliance is calling on the Prime Minister to give social care parity of esteem with the NHS and to fulfil his promise to “fix social care” by urgently bringing forward reforms and increasing funding to restore services, fill staffing gaps, improve the quality of care and enable many more people who need support to actually receive it.
The survey results are published in a new report ‘A Cry for Hope: why 2021 must be the year for social care reform’.
Caroline Abrahams, co-chair of the CSA and Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Our new survey shows how a lack of social care during the pandemic has diminished the lives of many older and disabled people, and their unpaid carers, and put their health at risk.
“This has piled further pressure on the NHS when this was the last thing our over-stretched health services needed. As we start to imagine a world beyond COVID-19 it is vital that the Government extends its pandemic funding for care services and follows through on its pledge to bring forward reform proposals to fix social care, once and for all.
“This would give everyone involved in social care hope for the future, which is much needed given all the suffering and loss they have endured over the last year. It would also support an exhausted NHS to focus on recovery and on reducing the waiting lists that have ballooned during the last year.”