A study entitled The Bigger Picture by the charity Independent Age and Strategic Society Centre has found that over 70,000 of the most vulnerable older people in England have been effectively abandoned by the care system, with no help or support despite having serious life-limiting disabilities, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The study reveals that at least two million older people in England have some difficulty performing essential day-to-day tasks such as washing, dressing, cooking or eating. While most of them receive at least some informal care from family or friends if they do not qualify for state-funded support or a place in a care home, it estimates that a core of about 70,000 receive nothing.
The study is intended to shine a light on the level of care needs in England ahead of the Government’s overhaul of the care system next year. It argues that the research "highlights alarming gaps" in the system and raises questions that need addressing ahead of April 2016, when care costs will be capped at £72,000 over a person's lifetime.
Charities are concerned that, while certain aspects of the new Care Act will reduce the financial pressure on some older people, it could exclude others altogether as tougher tests are introduced to determine who has the greatest physical need. It argues that there are already serious gaps in the care system leaving some of the most vulnerable people in society without any help or support.
Commenting on the study, Lucie Prothero, associate at Penningtons Manches, said: “This study is yet more evidence that much of the UK’s ageing population is being put at risk by a lack of care to support them in the most basic of personal needs.
“The large funding cuts facing local authorities seem short-sighted, as they leave the vulnerable and the elderly at risk of more acute health problems which, in turn, will put a greater burden on the NHS front-line and acute services.
“We deal with large numbers of enquiries from relatives of older patients concerned about inadequate standards of health and social care, both in hospital and in the community. This includes instances where older people have suffered falls in their homes due to lack of support, or malnutrition and infections due to lack of food and warmth - often leading to avoidable hospital admissions and additional strain on the NHS. As people are living longer, greater priority must be given to health and social care for older people. The chronic underfunding of state services simply serves to make matters worse.”