Chronic underfunding sets scene for rationing of older people’s services

Older people face increased rationing of key
services as a result of chronic underfunding of community care over
the past decade, claims a new study from charity Help the Aged.

Changes in policy, such as the
withdrawal of the NHS from almost all long-term provision, the
redefinition of nursing care, and changes in capital limits for
residential and nursing care, have put additional demands on local
authorities and led to a disproportionate allocation of resources
going into hospital care at the expense of social care, the charity

“Funding has simply not kept pace
with need and this is having disastrous consequences for older
people,” said Gail Elkington, policy officer at Help the

urgently need to see this inadequacy in funding addressed in the
chancellor’s forthcoming comprehensive spending review.”

study, Nothing Personal, shows that following government
guidance, social services departments have targeted their resources
on those assessed as most in need of support, with the budget
determining whether those with less urgent needs receive

local authorities were found to be contracting with the independent
sector to supply home and residential care to reduce costs, this
appeared to be opening a gap in the quality of care as independent
providers tried to manage with the lower fees offered by local

report shows that fewer people are being supported at home but that
they are receiving substantial packages of care, while low-level
services such as cleaning, laundry, and gardening have been cut

of funding for social services and for older people’s support
differed from one authority to another and this affected the extent
to which older people’s needs were being met. Effective joint
working between health and social services has still some way to go
and cultural differences between models of care seem likely to
persist, suggests the report.

the Aged is calling for greater resources and for fairer and more
even distribution of social care services, as well as higher
priority for low-level needs.

report, carried out by the Nuffield Community Care Studies Unit at
the University of Leicester and financed by the community fund,
looks at the policies and practices of six local authorities across
England and Wales and is based on interviews with social services
departments, voluntary sector and private providers of care
services, older people and their carers.

Nothing Personal: Rationing Social Care for Older People


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