The Crisis in Care: Increasing Decline in Care Services for Vulnerable, Older People in England
Global campaign group The Human Rights Watch has stated its the government is failing its population of older, vulnerable people because of the failures in the way care resources are allocated. Budget cuts mean elderly people residing in England, requiring adult social care services are at risk of being denied their human rights.
Statistics show that there has been an increase in adult social care complaints of 140% since 2010 which is likely due to fact that there have been cuts of almost 50% in central government funding for councils. Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Michael King warns that the volume of complaints being received indicates that these are not singular mistakes being made but “systemic issues where a policy or procedure is being regularly incorrectly applied.”
Following a 13 month investigation, the Human Rights Watch concluded that “people are facing physical, financial and psychological hardship and are at risk of being denied adequate help to live independent, dignified lives.” They state that under international law, the Care Act 2014 and the Human Rights Act, people have the right to live independently in the community, to health and to private and family life, and it is the governments obligation to ensure these rights.
In 2018, United Nations launched an investigation into extreme poverty in the UK whereby it attacked government austerity policies labelling them “punitive” and “mean-spirited”. This is what triggered the Human Rights Watch group to start their own inquiry. HRW is usually at the heart of tackling extreme human rights investigations in places such as the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Russia. This is the first time they have focused their attention on the UK welfare system. They state “older people in England are at risk of not getting adequate assistance to live independent, dignified lives due to unseen assessments for social services. The government risks failing to secure older persons’ rights to health, and to live in the community.”
In the 10 years spanning 2007-2017, the population of people aged over 85 grew three times faster than the whole of the adult population. This means the number of elderly people requiring social care funded by the public is predicted to increase by around 70% by the year 2035.
These figures are alarming when you look at how the government is declining to fund this area and according to the Local Government Association, adult social care services face a £1.5bn funding gap by 2019-20, estimated to rise to £3.5bn by 2024-25. Money should be allocated to tackling these systemic problems within care services and the government should be looking to improve upon the quality of lives for our elderly, so that they can live the remainder of their lives in comfort, without fear of not receiving the help and care they need.
The Care Act is intended to improve people’s wellbeing, dignity and independence, but with the continuous cuts, support is being reduced and often completely overlooked leaving vulnerable elderly people in unacceptable circumstances. What’s more worrying is how this trajectory has been overlooked and ignored. How long will it be before the government, and in particular the chancellor, provide adequate funding for this sector and look to solve the current crisis in care.
Written By Haley Olpin