William Eichler 11 November 2019

One and a half million older people have ‘unmet care needs’, charity warns

The number of older people with some unmet care needs now stands at one and a half million and could rise to over two million in the next decade, a charity has warned.

A new study by Age UK has shown that one in seven of the over 65s are struggling without the help they need to carry out essential everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, going to the toilet, washing and getting dressed.

The charity, which launched its manifesto for the General Election over the weekend, also warned that by 2030 there could be 2.1 million older people who don’t get the care they need.

‘It is shameful that one a half million older people are living with some degree of unmet need for care, equivalent to one in seven of our entire older population,’ said Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK.

‘For the last few years these figures have been getting worse as Governments dither over how to overhaul a system of care that everyone agrees is no longer fit for purpose.

‘Some older people are fortunate and receive good care from committed staff which makes a huge difference to their lives, but far too many are going without the support they need to live decently and with dignity.’

‘If Governments continue to refuse to act then our research suggests that by 2030 more than two million older people in need of care could be left fending for themselves,’ Ms Abrahams continued.

‘If you are facing a decline in your ability to do everyday things it’s hard enough if you have friends and family to help, but if you are on your own as many are then the outlook is not only depressing but frightening.’

The Health Foundation and King's Fund have estimated that to return the social care sector to the quality levels observed in 2009/10, the Government would need to invest £8bn. In its manifesto Age UK agreed with this estimate and called on the next Government to secure the immediate future of care through investing at least £8bn over the next two years.

Responding to Age UK’s report, the chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said: ‘The next Government needs to bring forward substantive proposals for the future of adult social care as soon as possible, to reassure all those who use and work in this vital service and address unmet care needs.

‘Reforming and improving our adult social care and support system will help keep our population living healthier, longer and more independently without the need for using social care services, which are under constant pressure from rising costs and demand.

‘We need an honest debate about what the future of care and support should be and how it should be funded in the long-term.’

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