As the news breaks today that 200,000 more care homes are needed by 2025 in order to care for the ageing population, we look at what really has gone wrong, and how it affects those we love.
As reported in the BBC News, this isn’t just related to care for older people, but disabled people, and children too, and some are unfortunately suffering more than others.
1. Spending has plateaued
The trend has been that year on year more money has been spent on services. This is due to a growing population, an ageing population, and those with disabilities living longer. Over the past ten years, this has levelled off and Central Government funding for councils was slashed by one third by the previous parliament.
2. Care is being prioritised
In 2015-16, 55% of council budgets was being spent on social care. With this, comes cutbacks to other local services such as leisure centres and refuse collection.
3. The NHS is filling the gap
One third of last years £24 billion budget was spent on children leaving £16 billion for adults. This was supported by a £2 billion grant from the NHS.
Last year saw the biggest grant yet from the NHS, as local authority spending was £900 million less than in 2009-10.
Simply, what happens in social care, directly impacts the NHS.
4. Councils are looking after less people
To save money, care is being rationed to older people rather than those with disabilities.
Between 2008 and 2014, care from the councils for over 65s fell by 25%.
5. Patients are being forgotten
If care isn’t provided in the community, people go to hospital.
Doctors only release those they know will receive care in the community. And if it’s still not available when they’re ready to leave, they’re left on wards.
This means new patients cannot be admitted, directly affecting A&E waiting times and increasing trolley waits.
This has almost doubled over the past five years.
6. People are making their own arrangements
As reported by Age UK, 12.5% of people in care homes now pay for themselves and 30% receive no help whatsoever.
These people still have substantial needs and are unable to dress themselves, and struggle to go to the toilet.
7. Councils are being subsidised
Companies providing the services have reported that councils are being squeezed so much, in some areas they’re working at a loss.
The U.K. Care Association calculated that the cost of helping people at home is £16.60ph, but across the UK, councils are paying on average £2 less than this. Also, the fees being paid by councils are £100 less than the true cost.
This means, those who are self funding, are paying more to make up the difference from the losses ; They’re subsidising the state.
Considering 1 in 10 people has care costs of over £100,000, we are left asking if this is fair?
8. The market is at risk
The Care Quality Commission have highlighted that this is destabilising the sector, as care companies begin to focus on areas where there are more self funders.
This could create a shortage of places in those areas, such as the South East where 54% are self funding.
Over the past six years, the number of homes operating in England has fallen by over 1500.
9. Ageing population
Currently, roughly 18% of the U.K. population is over 65. This is predicted to rise to almost 25% by 2044.
By 65, one in six people have trouble with day to day tasks. By 85, this rises to half.
10. Council tax bills are increasing
Councils have been given permission to raise council tax bills in order to pay for social care.
But it would appear this is limiting, as it is still raising less than 3% of what they plan to spend.
By 2020, the Local Government Association predicts there will still be a shortfall of over £2.5 billion.
Many have tried and failed to solve this, and our current coalition government have suggested a cap on care costs; already pushed back by 4 years.
Will we ever see a solution, or will this continue until the system crumbles and we have nothing left?