In Age UK's Care in Crisis 2014 report
, the charity cites official figures
showing the affects of the continuing funding cuts to social care. The "distressing human cost" of the reduction in the availability of elderly care has been well documented.
Age UK says about 168,000 people have stopped receiving help in such essential tasks like eating, bathing and getting dressed. This also includes Meals-on-Wheels and visits to daycare centers. Loneliness, isolation and the feeling of becoming an increasing burden on family members plays heavily on the elderly members of the community.
Charity director for Age UK, Caroline Abrahams said,
"The figures we have uncovered in this report are catastrophic. Older people who need help and are now not getting it are being placed at significant risk, and families who care for loved ones are experiencing intolerable strain."
The funding cuts
to social care began in 2005-2006 when the Labor party was in power. The cuts have continued, but only deeper with the budget cuts to England's 152 local councils. In 2010-2011, a total of about 1,064,475 people aged 65 or over were receiving some sort of social care help in England.
The numbers fell significantly the next year by 73,000 elderly, and then in 2012-2013, another 95,000 people were dropped, bringing the number of elderly receiving social care to 896,000, which is 168,000 (15.8 percent) fewer than in 2010-11. The problem facing the system is that while funds have been cut, the number of pensioners has increased by more than one million people since the 2005-2006 report. During that same period, the number of people 85-years and older increased by 30 percent.
One local government spokeswoman said "The shortage of funding is being exacerbated by increasing demand. To substantially raise the standard of care on a nationwide basis, more money needs to be put into the system."
Even though the government is attempting to ease the pressure being put on the system with the creation of a 3.8 billion pound budget pool
with the national Health Service's Better Care Fund
next year, it is doubtful this will help because the system is so underfunded already. Then in 2016, a cap on care costs is supposed to be introduced.
But the government is hopeful the care bill will substantially improve care for the elderly. One important issue being tackled is the eligibility rules for social care. At the present time, each council enacts their own eligibility requirements, and some are extremely strict, while only a few will deal with those elders not in "critical" need.
With the care bill, the health secretary will be setting national requirements for elderly care eligibility for the first time. It is said the criteria for the care bill will more than likely set the requirements to help those considered to be in "substantial" or "moderate" need.
Concern for the elderly is a continuing issue, not only because of the aging of the population, but because of the cost of hospitalizations as a result of many elderly not getting the daily care they need to live independent and safe lives. The system has to keep up with these issues or it is a failure.