Older people in England dying without the care they need, says Age UK | Older people

Thousands of older people have died without getting the care they needed, a charity has said.

Age UK said it was “deeply concerned” about the plight of elderly people whose needs are not being met and urged the chancellor to direct more resources towards social care.

The charity cited NHS Digital figures for England, which show that 28,890 requests for people aged 65 and over to be given support in 2021-22 were recorded as them having died without any services being provided.

While the figures are for requests for support rather than individual people, the charity said it was unlikely many people would have had multiple requests logged when they died.

Therefore, they said, the numbers equated to more than 550 deaths a week – or 79 a day.

The charity’s director, Caroline Abrahams, said: “There isn’t enough social care to go round and so some older people are waiting endlessly for help they badly need.

“It is heartbreaking that on the latest figures, more than 500 older people a week are going to their graves without ever receiving the care and support to which they were entitled.

“Nor can the blame for this parlous situation be placed on the pandemic, for while it certainly didn’t help, social care services were struggling to secure enough staff and funding in the years preceding it.

“Since then, all the evidence is that the position has not got any better and, on most measures, has continued to get worse.”

Abrahams said long waits for social care caused “huge distress to older people” and placed “intolerable pressure on their families”.

She added: “At Age UK we are deeply concerned about the plight of all the older people with an unmet need for care, living alone, without any family or friends. We fear there are many tragedies playing out silently behind closed doors.”

The charity has written to the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, calling on him to fix a problem he had spoken about as chair of the health and social care committee.

The letter said millions of older people in England awaiting care were “struggling to go to the toilet, eat, get dressed or wash because they can’t do these things unaided”.

It went on: “When you were chair of the health and social care committee, you expressed deep regret at being unable to fix the problems faced by social care during your time as secretary of state.

“Now, as chancellor, the spring budget is your opportunity to help the millions of older people, often unheard and feeling ignored, who are waiting for good, reliable care and support to live with dignity.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Everyone should have access to good quality social care when they need it, and our thoughts are with all those who have lost elderly relatives and loved ones.

“We are providing up to £7.5bn in funding available over the next two years to support adult social care. This will put the adult social care system on a stronger financial footing and help local authorities address waiting lists, low fee rates, and workforce pressures in the sector.

“We are also tackling workforce pressures by promoting careers in adult social care through our annual domestic recruitment campaign and by investing £15m to increase international recruitment of care workers.”

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