Almost 300,000 on ‘waiting lists’ for social care services – councils

70,000 people are waiting for care assessments

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The number of people waiting for social care services has risen by a quarter in three months amid a crisis of rising demand for care at home, staff shortages and growing levels of unmet need, social services bosses say.

Some 294,353 people are thought to be waiting for social care assessments, care and support or reviews in England – up 26% in three months – according to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.

People are waiting longer for care as demand for support at home rises, including for people recently discharged from hospital, it said.

And a significant proportion of people are being offered care they would not have chosen or do not want, such as residential care, due to problems recruiting and retaining staff.

The organisation carried out a snap survey of members between August 14-20.

Less than half (45%) of councils in England responded, which Adass said was “likely to reflect the seriousness of the current situation”.

Its findings suggest that 70,000 people are waiting for care assessments, with 11,000 people having been waiting for at least six months.

Up to 184,062 are estimated to have been waiting more than a year for reviews of existing care and support plans, which by law should take place annually.

This is up 15.6% in the last three months.

Some 13% are not getting the kind of care they would choose, it suggests, which Adass said was not only “disastrous” for individuals but could mean health and care systems funding more expensive packages, such as residential care, when home care was more appropriate.

This is “not sustainable and is wholly unacceptable”, it said, adding that the findings underline the need for urgent, short-term investment.

The survey concludes: “The word ‘crisis’ is over-used, however the findings of this snap survey suggest that this is an apt description of what is happening in adult social care right now.

“This crisis is not limited to shortages of vital care staff, particularly amongst those who provide care and support in people’s homes, important though this is.

“Rather, the findings also suggest that there are fundamental issues relating to hospital discharges, increasing requests for care and support, and the detrimental impact of decision-making on the lives of so many older and disabled people.”

Adass president Stephen Chandler said: “Having heard the Government’s initial thinking about the longer-term future, this survey is a stark reminder of why we need investment in care and support now.

“It is neither fair nor acceptable that people are waiting longer and getting less care. People need care and support to live a good life now. They cannot, and should not be made to wait.”