ACCESS Social Care, a charity providing free legal advice for people with social care needs, has released its inaugural State of the Nation report this week.
The reveals that demand for social care needs assessment advice – where individuals are entering the social care system for the first time or where their needs have increased – rose by a staggering 110% in two years, providing further evidence that the English social care system is struggling with increased demand and is in dire need of reform.
The State of the Nation report is a new annual research report conducted by Access Social Care and their partners Mencap and Age UK, Carers UK and Independent Age, and looks into the state of social care affairs across England. It sources research into helpline data, including advice for carers, needs assessments advice demand and other key social care issues affecting carers, older people and people with a learning disability and their families.
The nationwide data in the report shows that the number of individuals calling helplines that need help with getting an adequate needs assessment to arrange social care provisions, such as personal care, protection or social support services, has risen by 84% in two years. The report also highlights an increase in demand for advice on charging and paying for social care over the last two years, rising by 45%. More people are contacting helplines after they were left with far less income due to the local council increasing their charges due to budget pressures and a lack of funding.
The demand for advice for unpaid carers also rose by a shocking 394% in just two years as helplines receive calls from individuals with problems struggling to cope with their caring responsibilities. The number of calls is increasing at an unsustainable rate as local authorities continue to tighten budgets. There was a significant spike in the number of calls recorded as early as March 2020, when the pandemic first began to affect the country and has continued to rise in many areas of social care since that point.
Kari Gerstheimer, Chief Executive of Access Social Care, said:
“The demands on local authorities to provide social care are rising, whilst funding to pay for care and support has not increased at the same rate. The staggering rise in calls into charity helplines is symptomatic of underfunding from the central government. Every day millions of older and disabled people are going without the social care they need and have a right to.
“As local councils increase their charges to stay on top of budget restrictions, delay and deny people care to balance their books, more and more people are contacting helplines asking for help. Something has to change. Without extra funding from the government, the system cannot cope.”
Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said:
“This report paints an extremely worrying picture about the increasing unmet social care needs of people with a learning disability. We know that many people with a learning disability had their support cut or completely stopped at a time when they needed it most. Families’ carers had to pick up the pieces, but they are at crisis point. Charity helplines have been a lifeline for many, but for every call, there will be many more struggling alone. The Government must act now. This is not the time to tinker with the system – the Government must think big and bring its social care reform plans forward urgently. We need ambition and proper funding to create a world-class social care system we can all be proud of.”
Needs assessment advice is required when people in need of social care are not provided with enough support, or people with no pre-existing support are told they do not qualify for support or cannot get an assessment to decide whether or not they qualify. Examples of pre-existing support not being enough to support a person’s needs include the exacerbation of needs due to isolation during the lockdown or when day centre support has stopped, leading to escalation of a person’s needs. Many have been left with spiralling needs due to losing vital social care provision during the pandemic, and these needs remain unmet.
Access Social Care’s State of the Nation Report provides a unique insight into the challenges facing millions of people across the country in need of social care. This innovative, trailblazing research will be shared annually by Access Social Care and will be used as evidence to drive policy change and shine a light on a system in desperate need of funding and improvements.
Access Social Care provides expert legal advice to disabled people, elderly people and their family carers to ensure their social care needs are met, and they are able to live fulfilled and meaningful lives.
The charity work with leading law firm partners, including Fieldfisher, Orrick, Baker Mackenzie, Slaughter and May, Shearman and Sterling and expert barristers in the field of social care to allow individuals to receive free expert legal advice.