Older people dying for want of social care at rate of three an hour

Age UK estimates that between last general election and next, 74,000 of cohort in England have died or will die waiting for care

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.”


Amelia Hill

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Vulnerable adults at risk as councils face £1bn social care shortfall
Outlook for care provision in England is bleak with cuts eating into resources despite rising need for support, says report

Patrick Butler Social policy editor

12, Jul, 2016 @11:01 PM

Article image
Handing budgets to the NHS will not save social care from collapse | Bob Hudson
Social care is failing, but as well as proper funding, it desperately needs a new vision

Bob Hudson

31, Jul, 2020 @7:34 AM

Article image
Brexit could trigger crisis in care for older and disabled people
UK care sector’s reliance on European workers means it is vital they are given right to remain in any future arrangements, charities say

Patrick Butler Social policy editor

20, Sep, 2016 @11:39 PM

Article image
Social care cuts are already biting, say charities

One in four disabled and older people say their services have been reduced even before the spending cuts next month

Patrick Butler

29, Mar, 2011 @11:01 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on social care and disability: a cruel policy vacuum | Editorial
Editorial: The issue is often framed around ageing. But disabled people of all ages urgently need answers to the social care question


03, Jun, 2021 @5:33 PM

Article image
Andy Burnham: older people should receive care at home, not hospital
Guardian event hears shadow health secretary call for a single health and social care service to support the ageing population. Sarah Johnson reports

Sarah Johnson

23, Sep, 2014 @10:57 AM

Article image
Row delays green paper on care funding for older and disabled people

Time running out for long-awaited care funding plans to be published before summer recess

David Brindle

08, Jul, 2009 @4:00 PM

Article image
Write for us about … paying for social care for older people | The people's panel
The people's panel: The government wants people to borrow from their council to pay for residential care. How are you going to pay for care when you're old?

The people's panel

11, Jul, 2012 @12:34 PM

Letters: More thoughtful care for older people
Letters: Governments of all parties have stigmatised the elderly as 'bed-blockers'. It is hardly surprising then that health professionals regard them as squatters in a system which can no longer tolerate their needs

21, Feb, 2011 @12:05 AM

Article image
Social care is on the critical list. But Dilnot won't cure it | Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee: A nation that spends less than 0.5% on old age can hardly expect anything other than a decrepit system. We can do better

Polly Toynbee

27, Jun, 2011 @7:30 PM