The survey, a joint collaboration by Age UK and College of Social Work, shows the need to defend the role of social workers in adult services in times of budget cuts and austerity.
The College of Social Work has been aiming to ensure the role of social workers is maintained, and The Business Case for Social Work with Adults highlights their concerns form more investment in social work,
In a joint parliamentary briefing with Age UK tomorrow (4th December), they will show that spending on older people’s social care is falling, and this year’s spend has fallen half a billion pounds short of the levels that were already too low before the Coalition’s cuts.
As we have an aging population, it would make sense for the funding to have increased, as the survey points out that this is the most cost effective way of meeting the need of older people’s social care.
The falling levels of funding are thought to be jeopardising the standard of care, and the majority of responses from the 200 social workers that took part in the survey, say that they have found it has affected the quality of care and the amount of care available to vulnerable older people.
Over 95% of social workers who reported cuts to services said the reduction presented a risk to the dignity of their older clients, while 70% expressed a worrying lack of confidence that local authority-funded older clients always received the right quantity and quality of social care.
The lack of funding increases the pressures on the NHS as it increases the amount of emergency re-admissions for older people (65% of the social workers reporting a rise in emergency re-admissions) as they are not being cared for adequately. This is a much higher cost to the government that providing the initial preventative care, and therefore, as well as being terrible for the older person to experience, it is costing more money than the original funding.
Age UK and the College are also concerned that there is still not consensus on the future of funding in social care. Despite new ideas for funding being raised, such as the Dilnot scheme, the present problem of needs that are already not met has not been discussed. Age UK say that the current crisis in social care is becoming increasingly desperate, and results in denying older people dignity and peace of mind.
Age UK Charity Director General Michelle Mitchell said:
This survey sheds an important light on the scale of current underfunding and shows that cuts to frontline services are having a severe impact on those older people struggling to live with chronic illness and disability.
Age UK calls on the Government to recognise and close the current funding gap, and to build on the programme of legislative reform set out by the White Paper by establishing a fair and sustainable system of social care funding .
The College of Social Work’s Adult Faculty Chair Bernard Walker said:
As well as struggling under the weight of increased workloads, social workers are spending more and more time trying to access dwindling budgets to provide levels of care provision that people need.
While we appeal to the government to urgently address the social care funding crisis, we would also urge local authorities to note the compelling moral and financial arguments for investing in social work.