At least 74,000 older people in England have died, or will die, waiting for care between the 2017 and 2019 general elections. A total of 81 older people are dying every day, equating to about three an hour, research by Age UK has found.
In the 18 months between the last election and the forthcoming one, 1,725,000 unanswered calls for help for care and support will have been made by older people. This, said the charity, was the equivalent of 2,000 futile appeals a day, or 78 an hour.
Age UK’s director, Caroline Abrahams, said: “This huge number of requests for help did not lead to any support actually being given for three main reasons: because the older people died or will die before services were provided, because of a decision that they did not meet the eligibility criteria as interpreted by their local authority, or because their local authority signposted them to some other kind of help than a care service.”
Age UK is calling on whichever political party forms the next government to invest £8bn in the system over the next two years to prevent further decline.
As well as social care, the charity has highlighted other issues that affect older people, including poverty, ageism, poor housing, loneliness and ill health.
Abrahams said: “Unfortunately, we have effectively wasted the last 18 months, waiting for the social care green paper that never was. No one knows how many of these older people, if any, might have lived longer had they received care in time, but at the very least their final days would probably have been more comfortable and their families and friends would have felt better supported.
“Social care is not some kind of nice-to-have optional extra – it’s a fundamental service on which millions of older and disabled people depend every day. It is appalling that one and a half million older people in our country now have some unmet need for care – one in seven of the entire older population.”
Julie Ogley, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), welcomed the report, saying: “Social care enables so many of us to get the care and support we need to live good lives and die good deaths. But too many of us continue to struggle to get the care and support we need. These figures show why the next government must prioritise adult social care.
“Successive governments have promised, but ultimately failed to deliver, the change we all need. The millions of us who rely on adult social care cannot afford another missed opportunity. That is why we are calling on each of the parties to set out their positive plans for the future of social care.”