Adult social care 'slipping deeper into crisis'

SOCIAL CARE for adults is slipping into a deepening crisis, with overspends projects to hit nearly half a billion pounds, further closures of homes and increased handing back of contracts, a new report has warned.

A snap survey of 129 of the 152 director of adults social services in England found that overspends are set to hit £441m. Councils are planning to raid their reserves and other one-off funding to plug the "huge" gap.

The survey comes after the LGA warned of a £2.6bn "black hole" in social care funding, with £1.3bn needed to address immediate pressures on the system and another £1.3bn needed by 2019-20 to deal with additional pressures created by an ageing population, inflation and the cost of introducing the National Living Wage.

Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of councils have seen residential and nursing homes close, while more than half (57 per cent) have had care providers hand back contracts in the last six months. This has affected some 10,820 people receiving council-funded care, with some having to find a new home.

Furthermore, 84 per cent of councils have concerns about the quality of providers of residential and nursing care, with 79 per cent having concerns about homecare standards.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), which carried out the survey, said the situation is being made worse by pressures, with some projected overspends, particularly the larger amounts, reflecting a reduction in funding from the NHS to social care.

Nearly seven out of 10 (68 per cent) service directors have had discussions about reductions to NHS-funding continuing healthcare. Another 56 per cent reported increased demand for healthcare activity to be carried out by social care staff and 51 per cent said there was rising demand from people with very high needs not being admitted to hospital.

Ray James, immediate past president of Adass, said: "Adult social care is entering a 'perfect storm' which is impacting on vulnerable people who are getting less help and whose need for care won't stop.

"Urgent and significant Government investment is needed now to address funding for the sector, or thousands of people who rely, or hope to rely, on receiving care will suffer as a result."

Janet Morrison, chief executive of charity Independent Age, said: "These deeply worrying results are yet more proof that social care cannot continue to be swept under the carpet and ignored by the Government.

"In the end, providers handing back contracts to deliver home help and run care home services hits oldest people hardest. It is the frailest and the oldest pensioners who stand to lose most if they can no longer get help to get out of bed, dress, eat, or to get to the toilet. And though we haven't seen another Southern Cross-style collapse, the worry is smaller, independent care homes will get forced out of business, with people in their 80s and 90s placed in the invidious position of having to move to a new home.

"The Prime Minister talked recently about the great that government can do for the most vulnerable and those at risk of being left behind. We can think of no greater or more urgent need for her to act on these values than fixing social care."