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Tens of thousands of older people died waiting for social care last year, Age UK finds

TENS of thousands of older people died waiting for social care last year thanks to lack of funding, a new survey by Age UK has revealed.

The charity said the blame for delays in allocating social care to 28,655 elderly people who died waiting “rests squarely on the lack of public money” to local authorities and insufficient care staff.

Long waits for benefits assessments, care assessments, care packages or reviews, discharge support and home adaptations also took a toll on older people and their families.

The charity said the “miserable numbers” of deaths equated to 79 a day, 550 a week, and 2,388 a month, and were similar to numbers the previous year.

Age UK’s survey also found that more than seven million people were worried about getting access to local authority services.

And almost five million were concerned about getting help from a carer, access to services such as dementia care and the costs involved, it said.

Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said the numbers dying while waiting for care were “emblematic of the now chronic systemic problems within social care, as hard pressed local authorities try to meet the needs of a growing older population with resources that in no way match up.”

She said: “Social care lacks sufficient funding and, in many places, trained staff, and unless and until we get a government that’s prepared to face up to these problems older people will continue to go to their graves without receiving the social care they are due.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our sympathies are with the families of all those who have died.

“We want to ensure everyone gets the care they need and help even more people to live independently.

"That’s why we have made available up to £8.6 billion in additional funding over two years to support adult social care and discharge, enabling local authorities to improve workforce recruitment and retention.

“Councils are responsible for assessing individuals’ care and support needs and, where eligible, for meeting those needs. This financial year, councils in England will receive up to £64.7 billion – a 7.5% increase in cash terms on 2023-24."

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