Thousands of older people in Scotland on missing out on vital personal care payments because of delays in assessing and arranging care, as the charity Age Scotland warns that most Scots don’t believe public services will be able to meet their care needs in later life.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information requests sent to Scottish councils found that around four thousand older people are waiting longer than six weeks for an assessment, with many more made to wait for several months.
In one case, an older person was made to wait for almost two years before receiving care following a financial assessment.
Polling conducted for the charity by YouGov on behalf of the Age Scotland found that 73 percent of Scots do not believe society values or invests enough in social care. Only 17 percent believe public services would be a position to look after their care needs in later life.
Age Scotland received responses from 25 out of 32 local authorities contacted. The charity found that:
- Older people often wait several months for a care assessment. FOI responses revealed that most councils conduct assessments within an average of 2½ weeks, but the average worst case scenario was 5 months and 2 weeks – and in one instance one client waited over 18 months
- After assessment, services should be arranged and in place within six weeks, according to national eligibility criteria. But three-quarters of councils who responded had one or more people who waited more than six-weeks, and on average 5% of older people with care needs were waiting longer than they should equating to around 3,940 older people in Scotland
- Most councils don’t record the reasons why delays occur. Many cite instances where delays are caused by the person being admitted to hospital or waiting for a place in their chosen care home. But staff shortages, financial constraints and delays in adapting people’s homes have also been cited.
Age Scotland is highlighting pressures on health and social care in its manifesto for the local authority elections.
Age Scotland’s Chief Executive Keith Robson said: “These are deeply concerning figures showing thousands of older people facing delays in the care provision they need being put in place. It also means payments for free personal care they are entitled to not being received.
“This confirms the experiences of a number of older people and their families who have been in touch with Age Scotland’s Helpline to tell us their experiences of delays in the system.
“As we look to local authority elections next month Age Scotland has contacted council candidates across Scotland to ask them to ensure providing high quality health and social care services is made an urgent priority by new administrations.
“Free personal care has been one of the landmark policy initiatives in Scotland following devolution, and that is why we are calling on all levels of government to ensure the system works as it was intended.
“Our research has also found that most Scots do not believe that as a society we invest enough in health and social care, or are confident public services will provide for their care needs in later life.
“This shows the levels of concern which exist around current provision of care services, and why as a society we must all work to ensure our health and social care system has the support and investment it needs.
“We want everyone in Scotland to be confident they will receive high quality care when they need it in later life, and that is what we must work to achieve.”