Cuts to care at home ‘putting elderly at risk’, and could end up costing billions

The elderly are being put at risk because of ‘dangerous’ cuts to home-based care, a charity warns today.

And the cutbacks could actually end up costing the country billions because of the increased burden on health services, according to the British Red Cross.

Its survey of GPs and members of the public revealed older people are becoming more isolated, the number of falls and accidents is rising and there is growing pressure on the NHS.

Almost nine in ten of the 200 GPs polled warned that patients were being put at risk by a lack of social care support.

And 80 per cent of the 2,200 members of the public questioned said standards were being driven down.

Sir Nick Young, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘We all know budgets are tight but cuts and under-investment to lower-level home-based care which jeopardise patients’ wellbeing and dignity must be challenged.

'The practical and emotional support these services offer often makes the difference between coping or not, between independence or desperation, and between remaining healthy for as long as possible or rapidly deteriorating into crisis.

‘As politicians prepare to debate the future of social care it is vital they have the courage to think beyond the short-term and rethink the way care is delivered, prioritising vital preventative care which supports people to live with dignity and confidence in their own homes.’

Sir Nick called for a ‘dramatic rethink’ to the way social care was organised so that people could be kept healthy and independent for as long as possible. He also claimed home-based support could save the NHS up to £10,000 per patient.

Most GPs and members of the public said they believed support for those with a lower level of  need was being cut.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: ‘The Government’s austerity agenda is making life a misery for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Home care has always provided a vital service and safety net, but our members tell us that this critical protection is being taken away.

‘All too often 15-minute care slots are sold off to the lowest bidder. This does not give enough time for home carers to provide a decent level of care.’

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘Focusing on prevention and keeping people healthy and well for longer are some of the concerns we talked to people about as part of our engagement for the Care and Support White Paper, which will be coming out soon.

‘The changes to the NHS and social care system aim to focus care on individuals’ needs.’


Sourced from the Daily Mail, 11th June 2012.