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Standing with Age UK on its manifesto to the emerging government

Blog post 26 May 2017

We are a civilised nation – yes. We care for the most vulnerable – yes. We provide for those who are frail and elderly – yes. We look after those with learning disabilities and ensure no-one is struggling in their homes alone – yes.

Well, maybe not; in fact certainly not.

You see I’m a hopeless liar and no matter how many times I try to encourage myself things are getting better, I’m hit with more disturbing data that reaffirms the reason I head up the West Midlands Care Association.

My rationale is simple; if we can facilitate excellence in care delivery those who need it should get it at a level that’s the envy of the world.

If good will and well-meaning sentiments were currency, my members would all be millionaires. Their stoic determination to just keep going despite the financial chaos over fees paid by local authorities inspires me.

But I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated in what feels like a perpetual uphill struggle to get traction with our cause.

Age UK recently announced that nearly one in three elderly people are struggling with essential tasks of living and called on all political parties to put social care at the heart of their manifestos as new figures reveal high numbers of over-80s going without the help they need.

 Their new findings reveal that 794,000 of the ‘oldest old’, those aged 80 or older, are unable to carry out at least one activity of daily living (ADLs) and are either receiving inadequate care or no care at all.

Such simple and essential tasks include washing, eating, getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, dressing, or walking.

 Shockingly, of all those aged 80 or older who are coping with at least 3 ADLs – meaning they must have really substantial difficulties – more than half (56%) are either receiving help that does not fully meet their needs, or does not meet their needs at all.

And now as we race towards the General Election, Age UK is calling on the next Government to address this situation as a matter of urgency.

It says it is another example of our social care system in freefall, where significant numbers of our ‘oldest old’ – who include some of our most vulnerable citizens – have effectively been abandoned by a system that has been chronically underfunded for too long.

Chronically underfunded too long . . . yes!

 In England, there are approximately 2,622,000 individuals aged 80 or older. Age UK’s new analysis shows that:

Here are the facts that should shame our politicians:

 Among people aged 80 or over with at least 3 ADLS

 260,000 have difficulty with 3 or more ADLs (10% of the entire age group).

  • Of these 260,000, around 86,000 (33% of all with 3+ADLs and 3% of the entire age group) receive no help.
  • Of these 260,000, around 145,000 (56%) have unmet needs: they either do not receive any help or help that does not always meet their needs.

 Among people aged 80 or over with at least 1 ADL

  •  926,000 have difficulty with at least 1 ADL (35% of the entire age group).
  • Nearly half a million of them (491,000) do not receive any help (53%).
  • Of those who do receive help, 70% (303,000) do not receive help that fully meets their needs.
  • 794,000 (equivalent to 86% of those with one or more ADLs and 30% of the entire age group) do not receive any help despite their needs, or receive support that does not always meet their needs.

In Age UK’s manifesto to the new government – Dignity in Older Age and a Later Life Worth Living – the charity focuses on ensuring that older people receive dignified care at home, in hospital and in care homes.

The Charity is urging the next Government to continue to pursue a twin track approach towards social care: being prepared to invest emergency funding in the short term to save the system from complete collapse – a real risk in some areas; while also developing an effective plan to ensure a sustainable financial future for social care in the longer term.

The current social care crisis is eclipsing and with other representative bodies we stand with Age UK to help change the inevitable miserable outcomes of historic government neglect in social care.