ACCORDING to a report published by the charity Age UK, there are almost 170,000 elderly people in the country who are not receiving help with essential tasks – and all because of budget cuts.
More and more vulnerable people are facing later life without the social care which has been available to those who went before them, and as cuts continue to bite with each passing year, that number is only likely to increase.
The report, published yesterday, warned of the ‘catastrophic’ impact which the cuts to social care have already had and would continue to have all across the UK.
Thankfully, it is not something which has impacted too severely on 86-year-old Pamela Moore, who lives in Newhall.
She is visited by carers once a day, who help her bathe and make sure she is eating correctly.
But she is also cared for by her daughter Pam Green, who lives in nearby Stanton – and she said she did not know what the family would do if the carers were not there.
“We could not do it without them. When we go to see her, she doesn’t want us to leave, and we can’t do that. I have children at home and grandchildren to look after.
“It’s not always possible for families to do it on their own.
“At the end of the day, we’re not the professionals.
“If the social care is taken away from people, it will have a detrimental impact. It’s cruel and it shouldn’t happen. I’m so grateful we have the carers for mum, and I feel sorry for people who don’t have that, ” she told the Mail.
In Derbyshire, the social care budget has been slashed by 40 per cent, bringing the amount down by £63 million in recent years.
Councillor Clare Neal, the Derbyshire County Council cabinet member in charge of adult social care, said the council was being placed in ‘an impossible situation’.
“Age UK is absolutely right that vulnerable people are experiencing the brunt of the Government’s decision to cut budgets. You can’t take that much money away from vulnerable people without there being an impact,” she said.
Changes in adult social care are currently under consultation in Derbyshire. One aspect of the consultation is a change in the level at which somebody is eligible for care.
The change, which would bring Derbyshire in line with Government rules, means some people who previously would have received services will now no longer be eligible.
The Government said it is a move to allow people to remain more independent in their own homes for longer.
But Age UK has argued this is a retrograde step, as it will inevitably lead to people going into hospital as they are unable to look after themselves.
Christine Abrahams, charity director for the organisation, said: “If older people do not receive the care they need and as a consequence end up in A&E units and hospital wards, we have simply shifted people around the system at great financial cost and created distress and disruption for older people in the process.
“This make absolutely no moral or economic sense.”
It is placing people at ‘significant risk,’ she added – and it is all against the backdrop of an ageing population.
For Mrs Green, it is also an issue of dignity.
She said: “Elderly people face some big changes, and they can feel like a burden. When they are having to deal with old age, possibly illness and other problems, they can lose their dignity.
“When people get older they can forget to do things we just take for granted, like eating if they’re hungry or making a cup of tea if they’re thirsty. Someone has to check they’re doing that.
“It’s the carer that gives them that respect back and helps them to be independent and dignified.”
Great-great-grandmother Mrs Moore also attends the day centre at Oakland Village in Swadlincote. Her daughter said she had ‘no grumbles’ about the care her elderly mother received.
The funding for adult social care has been falling for some years, and according to Age UK, 335,000 fewer people are now receiving help than seven years ago.
In Staffordshire, the situation is similarly concerning. Statistics show that within the next 20 years the amount of people over the age of 75 may have doubled in the county. Estimates suggest a further £62 million will be needed even by 2018/19.
Councillor Robbie Marshall, from Staffordshire County Council, said: “The growing cost of funding adult social care is one of the biggest pressures on local authorities.
“We are committed to supporting the most vulnerable in our communities.”