MORE THAN HALF A MILLION PEOPLE in England are now waiting for an adult social care assessment, for care, for a direct payment to begin, or for a review of their care.

These are the findings of a new survey from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).

The latest data suggests:

  • More than six in 10 councils that responded (61 per cent) say they are having to prioritise assessments and are only able to respond to people where abuse or neglect is highlighted, for hospital discharge or after a temporary period of residential care to support recovery and reablement.
  • 506,131 people were waiting for assessments, reviews, and/or care support to begin
  • There has been a 16 per cent increase in the number of hours of home care that have been delivered since Spring 2021, but that dipped from a high of over 41million hours in Autumn 2021 in the first quarter of this year as staff vacancies and sickness impacted
  • Almost 170,000 hours a week of home care could not be delivered because of a shortage of care workers during the first three months of 2022. That is a dramatic seven-fold increase since Spring 2021

This new evidence shows that despite staff working relentlessly over the last two years, levels of unmet, undermet or wrongly met needs are increasing, and the situation is getting worse. The growing numbers of people needing care and the increasing complexity of their needs are far outstripping the capacity to meet them.

Despite great achievements in increasing the amount of care provided, there is an even starker rise in the support now needed, with more people left without essential care to maintain their health, and dignity and lead good lives in their communities.

Not only are people waiting longer for care assessments, reviews, care packages and personal budgets, but family carers are having to shoulder greater responsibility and are being asked to take paid or unpaid leave from work when care and support are not available for their family members.

Making the focus of resources on acute hospitals, without addressing care and support at home, means people deteriorate and even more will need hospital care.

Responding to the findings, Sarah McClinton, ADASS President said: “We have not seen the bounce back in services after the pandemic in the way we had hoped. In fact, the situation is getting worse rather than better.

“Social care is far from fixed.  The Health and Social Care reforms go some way to tackle the issue of how much people contribute to the cost of their care, but it falls short in addressing social care’s most pressing issues: how we respond to rapidly increasing unmet need for essential care and support and resolve the workforce crisis by properly valuing care professionals.

Cathie Williams, ADASS Chief Executive said: “Without action to prioritise care and support in people’s homes and local communities, it will take years rather than months to fully recover.”

“We need a funded plan so that we can ensure that everyone gets the care and support they need, with more of the Health and Social Care Levy being used to fund care and support in people’s homes and communities over the next two years.  People cannot wait for funding trickle into adult social care and wider community services”.

Also responding to the survey findings, Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “These alarming findings illustrate the huge everyday challenges adult social care continues to face and the impact they have on the people who draw on care and support to live their best life.

“No council wants to have to limit or reduce care and support services, but as a result of significant financial pressures and workforce shortages, councils are having to make very difficult decisions to prioritise available resources and capacity.

“While it is positive the Government has set out longer term reforms to adult social care, there is an urgent need to address immediate pressures facing social care in the here and now, including on capacity, recruitment and retention, care worker pay and on unmet and under-met need.

“To address this, we are calling for a greater proportion of the new health and social care levy to go directly towards social care upfront, to reflect the urgency of the situation and help deal with these immediate pressures.”

* Read: Waiting for Care and Support, May 2022 here.

* Sources: Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Local Government Association