New survey findings from ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) show that more than half a million people are now waiting for an adult social care assessment, for care or a direct payment to begin or for a review of their care.
More than six in 10 councils that responded (61%) say they are having to prioritise assessments and are only able to respond to people where abuse or neglect is highlighted, for hospital discharge or after a temporary period of residential care to support recovery and reablement.
The study found that 506,131 people were waiting for assessments, reviews, and/or care support to begin.
There has been a 16% increase in the number of hours of home care that have been delivered since Spring 2021, but that dipped from a high of over 41m hours in Autumn 2021 in the first quarter of this year as staff vacancies and sickness impacted
Almost 170,000 hours a week of home care could not be delivered because of a shortage of care workers during the first three months of 2022. That is a dramatic seven-fold increase since Spring 2021
ADASS says this new evidence shows that despite staff working relentlessly over the last two years, levels of unmet, undermet or wrongly met needs are increasing, and the situation is getting worse.
The growing numbers of people needing care and the increasing complexity of their needs are far outstripping the capacity to meet them.
Despite great achievements in increasing the amount of care provided, there is an even starker rise in the support now needed, with more people left without essential care to maintain their health, and dignity and lead good lives in their communities.
Not only are people waiting longer for care assessments, reviews, care packages and personal budgets, but family carers are having to shoulder greater responsibility and are being asked to take paid or unpaid leave from work when care and support are not available for their family members.
Making the focus of resources on acute hospitals, without addressing care and support at home, means people deteriorate and even more will need hospital care.
Responding to the findings, Sarah McClinton, ADASS President said: “We have not seen the bounce back in services after the pandemic in the way we had hoped. In fact, the situation is getting worse rather than better.
“Social care is far from fixed. The Health and Social Care reforms go some way to tackle the issue of how much people contribute to the cost of their care, but it falls short in addressing social care’s most pressing issues: how we respond to rapidly increasing unmet need for essential care and support and resolve the workforce crisis by properly valuing care professionals.
Cathie Williams, ADASS Chief Executive said: “Without action to prioritise care and support in people’s homes and local communities, it will take years rather than months to fully recover.”
“We need a funded plan so that we can ensure that everyone gets the care and support they need, with more of the Health and Social Care Levy being used to fund care and support in people’s homes and communities over the next two years. People cannot wait for funding trickle into adult social care and wider community services”.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “We are deeply worried by these latest findings. Unpaid carers are at breaking point, exhausted after more than two years of caring with little or no outside support.
“The impact on a social care system that was already on the brink of collapse before the pandemic means even more pressure on even more families who are propping up a chronic shortage of services.
“With hundreds of thousands of people now waiting for an assessment or service, sustainable funding for social care is essential, without which many thousands of carers and families will simply be unable to cope much longer.
“Together with the impact of the cost of living crisis, we’ll see the unacceptable inequalities that unpaid carers and their families already face, widen.”