Support is urgently needed for the five million unpaid carers in England, the Commission for Social Care Inspection warned today.
The care services watchdog stressed that the social care system is reliant on this group and said councils need to develop comprehensive support services for carers, including shared care.
Dame Denise Platt, chair of the CSCI, said the failure of councils to support carers on whom the social care system relies so heavily was “short-sighted”.
“No one should underestimate this – if the current level of informal care was to be fully funded, it would cost the same as a second NHS,” she added.
The report on the state of social care highlights that councils are targeting resources on people with the highest levels of need which means fewer people are receiving the care they need to help them live independently.
Early intervention strategies for adults and children need to be improved, it warns.
The report also found that:-
• Many people do not qualify for services because of the high thresholds which give access to them
• Younger people with disabilities are losing out from current models of care
• Services run by voluntary organisations out-perform those run by councils or the private sector
• People have difficulty finding the services they need.
In children’s services, the drive to build integrated services has resulted in a decline in good performance in some councils. As well as good services for children, services should be available to help parents with their own social care needs.
Platt concluded that she hoped decision makers would respond and that the report would lead to lasting improvements in social care.
The State of Social Care in England 2004 from www.csci.org.uk