Social care crisis leaving elderly people abandoned without single bed available
Elderly people are being left “high and dry” by a “broken system” that has left swathes of England without a single care home bed, a report has revealed.
Almost 30% of areas are “care deserts” due to an exodus of staff and providers pulling out due to Tory funding cuts.
The report for Age UK found that in 2,244 of 7,578 postcode areas in England there were no care home places even for those with the money to pay.
And it found two thirds of areas had no free nursing home beds.
As cuts leave councils struggling to finance care home places, “self-funders” are “paying through the nose to keep the system afloat”.
Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said: “This new report shows how chaotic and broken the market for care has become. The emergence of care deserts and a deeply worrying lack of nursing home places, in particular, are leaving some of our most vulnerable older people high and dry.
“It would be hard to exaggerate how serious the implications of this report are for older people, or indeed for the NHS, which is the place of last resort if no nursing home places are to be had.”
The report found that the Tories had slashed funding to councils for social care by an average of 9% per person since 2010.
There are now 1.3 million pensioners living in areas where there are no care home beds if they need one.
It is partly due to a lack of staff. The vacancy rate for registered nurses working in social care went from 4.1% in 2013 to 12.3% in 2018. Skills for Care estimates there are 110,000 vacancies in the social care sector.
Experts say up to £3billion extra is needed to “stabilise the system”. The Mirror’s Fair Care for All campaign aims to highlight the crisis.
The Age UK report, carried out by Incisive Health, found thousands of people were having to quit their jobs to care for an elderly relative due to a lack of social care.
One area “in crisis” was Hull. Kieran Lucia, of Incisive Health, said: “It’s basically impossible to get a care home bed in Hull. The social care system is broken.”
The report found providers of care homes were pulling out of areas where there were fewer “self-funders”, who pay from savings or by selling their homes.
Care homes get £236 extra every week from a self-funded resident compared to council-funded places. Ms Abrahams said: “The report shows what an impossible position local authorities are in.
“They are desperately short of money to purchase care home places, so more and more of the financial burden is being shifted on to those who fund their own care. They are paying through the nose to keep the system afloat. It is deeply unfair.”
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