Adult social services are facing a deluge of requests for care and support from older people and disabled people of working age as society opens up after Covid-19, directors of services are warning.   

A survey of local councils responsible for social services has found they face sharply rising numbers of people coming forward for help. Directors fear that people will have to wait longer for less care and support unless the Government steps in with more funding and launches its long-awaited social care reforms.     Almost seven in 10 social services directors in England say they are dealing with growing demand for help with mental health issues. Almost six in 10 say more people with care and support needs are seeking help to escape domestic violence or other abuse. More than a third report rising numbers of rough sleepers needing support.  

Stephen Chandler, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, which carried out the survey, said:

“Some of the numbers we are seeing are phenomenal. The trends are unsustainable and show why the Government must publish its plans for social care as a matter of urgency.  

“Our findings demonstrate very starkly that the crisis in social care is not just a crisis in the way we support older people. Half our spending is on help for adults of working age.”  

The ADASS survey was carried out in March and April and was completed by more than 90 directors, almost two-thirds of the total. They were asked how need for care and support compared with last November, less than six months previously. Of those who responded:

  • 69% said more people were being referred for support from the community, almost half of them reporting a rise of more than 10% over the six months
  • 68% said more people were presenting with mental health issues
  • 57% said more people with care and support needs were seeking help for domestic abuse or safeguarding
  • 35% said they were seeing more rough sleepers needing support.

The findings point to the strain that family carers have been under during the pandemic. Of responding directors, 67% said they were seeing more people seeking help because of breakdown in carer arrangements – 27% reporting a rise of more than 10%.  

The survey also shows the inter-dependence of social care and the NHS in the wider health and care system. Of responding directors, 48% said they were being asked to support more people awaiting admission to hospital and 75% said they were dealing with more people being discharged and asking for help from their local council – 55% reporting a rise of more than 10% in numbers of requests following discharge over the six months.  

Stephen Chandler said: “Adult social care has stepped up during the pandemic and is providing care and support both for many more people who have been unable to get admission to hospital and for many more who have been discharged. Without social care, the NHS would collapse.”

ADASS is calling on the Government to start to outline its promised plans for social care reform before the summer parliamentary recess next month. It wants a 10-year plan for social care, in parallel with that for the NHS, and a guarantee of medium-term funding to enable social care to deal with rising need for care and support while reform is put in place.  

 

The ADASS survey was conducted between 19 March and 21 April. It was completed by 91 directors of a total 152.

A copy of the report can be downloaded below

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