William Eichler 20 July 2017

Half of older people suffer ‘unmet’ care needs, report finds

Over half of older people with care needs have unmet - and often hidden - needs, shocking report reveals.

Ipsos MORI have conducted a research project highlighting the experiences of unmet need for care among older people living in their own homes.

Funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research, the researchers found whichever measure of unmet need is used, over half of older people with care needs have unmet needs.

They also discovered unmet need affects people eligible for local authority support as well as those who are responsible for funding their own care and support.

Unmet care needs can also be hidden, Ipsos MORI says. This is where older people look to cope with their own care needs - but spend all their time and energy doing this. It is also when they receive precarious or unreliable care from others.

The report also warned those who live alone are particularly vulnerable as they lack the social and practical support offered by a co-resident carer.

Unmet care needs can lead to frustration and a loss of purpose, the report says. And is related to social isolation and mobility.

‘This research shows that the causes of unmet needs for care and support are wide-ranging, and that lack of local authority funding is only one part of the problem,’ said Dr Margaret Blake, research director at Ipsos MORI.

‘Having timely access to information and advice, being able to plan ahead and save for future care needs, knowing how to access care and support services and understanding that they can have an empowering role in maintaining independence, all have a significant role to play in reducing unmet needs.’

Responding to the report, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) community wellbeing board, said: ‘Adult social care is at a tipping point. The huge financial pressures councils are under means they are barely managing to provide the care services that support those in greatest need.

‘Yet this report reveals a further and wider area of unmet need and highlights why any proposals to reform social care must include a strong focus on prevention and early intervention services.

‘Investing in prevention is vital if we are to support people to live independently in the community and avoid the need for more expensive ongoing care and support in future.

‘Adult social care needs to be about much more than just helping people to get washed or dressed, but to enable them to live fulfilling and independent lives.’

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