Vulnerable adults left without care in England as staffing crisis deepens | Social Protection

Nearly 9,000 people in England are waiting for home care services according to figures obtained by the Observer, but the true figure is likely much higher, as the situation has worsened considerably since last spring.

Home care is provided to older or disabled adults in their homes to help them with essential tasks, such as cooking and personal care.

According to freedom of information responses from 96 councils in England, 8,808 people have ‘unallocated’ or unsourced hours of home care, meaning they are not getting the home care they need . Total unsourced hours increased from 15,905 in April 2021 to 60,664 in December.

People receiving unsourced care may do without, but are more likely to receive care in less appropriate settings, such as hospitals or care homes, or to be cared for without payment by members of family.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK, said: ‘It’s something when so many hours of paid care go unused, all because there aren’t enough staff to enforce. This inevitably means that increasing numbers of older and disabled people find themselves without the care and support they need, and when unpaid carers help their loved ones, they are forced to do more for longer, without help and with no possibility of respite.

“The outlook for anyone waiting for care and alone, without family or other support, is extremely bleak – one has to wonder how some of these people manage to carry on.

“It is tempting for policy makers to lay all the blame for the growing healthcare worker crisis on Covid-19… but it has been a long time. Where we are now is what happens when there is no effective workforce planning for many years. It would be hard to overstate how worried we are about what will happen to home care this year and the millions of elderly and disabled people who depend on it every day.

Ellen Fenby, whose 19-year-old son is severely disabled, has had no support since July. Photograph: Karen Robinson/The Observer

Jane Townson, chief executive of the Homecare Association, said retaining and recruiting social workers is “more difficult than ever”, blaming “inadequate government investment in social care”. Many employees, she said, are leaving for higher-paying jobs in industries such as retail and hospitality.

“We are struggling massively to have any support whatsoever,” said Ellen Fenby, whose 19-year-old son is severely disabled. Observer. “There is a lack of personnel, there is a lack of people in the industry, there is a lack of capacity to train people to come and support us. Since July last year, we have had no help at home.

Fenby’s son has multiple medical needs, including brain damage and internal organ problems. Last summer, he had to have a PEG tube inserted, which allows food to be fed directly into the stomach, after developing serious swallowing problems.

“He went from a youngster eating normally like everyone else, to suddenly not being able to eat by mouth, everything through his PEG. We had to do this feeding, we had to deal with the care of the stoma site, the care of his food and making sure his nutrition and hydration were correct. So her need for care has increased dramatically.

Their local council felt he needed more care – two hours of home care each evening for personal care and his diet. The council has increased funding for Fenby’s son, but the family cannot spend it because no provision is available. “He’s sitting there. We got the money from the council, and we just can’t find someone who can actually take those hours,” Fenby said.

“It was very stressful. My husband and I have full time jobs, we have three other children. I try to make sure his care needs are always met while trying to research other agencies – I am constantly emailing all the agencies in the area to try and see if there are any to someone. There is a massive lack of trained people at the PEG.

Nor can they spend the money on other forms of care. Her son’s mental health suffered, his needs increased, and new elements of his disability emerged.

“We’ve come to a point where we’re a family in crisis, because the need has increased dramatically and we’re struggling to cope,” Fenby said.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are committed to delivering world-class social care across the country and that is why we are investing a further £5.4billion over three years. to reform adult social care.”

About Antoine L. Cassell

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