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Government health survey for England highlights levels of unmet care needs among the elderly

Posted: 04/01/2017

The release of the Government’s health survey for England has highlighted the number of older people with unmet care needs. 

The survey, which has been carried out annually since 1994, was designed to monitor trends in the nation’s health and in social care. It holds up a mirror to elderly care provision in England and it makes for uncomfortable reading. It looked at care needs and, in particular at whether elderly people needed assistance with basic activities of daily living (ADLs) such as going to the toilet and getting dressed. It also looked at instrumental activities of daily living, or IADLs. These include being able to prepare a meal, being able to take medication as prescribed and managing money. They are not necessarily needed for fundamental functioning but allow an individual to live independently in the community. 

The health survey showed that, for 2015, the levels of unmet care needs increased with age, with 60% of women over 85 and 37% of men over 85 having some unmet need with at least ADLs. It also found that 31% of women and 26% of men had some unmet need for help with at least one IADL.

Following publication of the health survey, the Government pledged to find a solution to the growing problem of caring for our elderly population; it announced extra funding for social care.

The Charity Age UK has questioned whether this funding will be sufficient. The charity’s director said: “It is vital that a permanent solution is found to the funding crisis affecting the care of our older population…many are struggling without help to carry out fundamental daily tasks like washing or cooking and without support they are surely at far greater risk of becoming seriously unwell so it’s no wonder our hospitals are permanently full.” 

Camilla Wonnacott, an associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP, commented: “The health survey for England 2015 serves to highlight, once again, the lack of proper provision of care for our elderly population. So many of our elderly, who have reached a time in their lives when they should be able to receive respect and care, do not have the quality of life that they deserve; many end up with avoidable injuries or even lose their lives for want of basic assistance. Sadly, we see the results when elderly clients or, more often their families, contact us for guidance on how to investigate what has gone wrong following an injury or a death.” 

For further information on how the Penningtons Manches team can help on elderly care claims, please click here.

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