Elderly people are forced to wait up to one year for home care

Elderly people who are told they qualify for home care are having to wait up to a year for their first visit from a carer, shocking figures revealed last night.

A survey of councils revealed many vulnerable people routinely face delays of more than six months before they get the help they need with tasks such as washing, dressing, cleaning and cooking.

Under one authority, the delay for delivery of an adult social care package stretched to longer than a year.

The waits faced by older people, usually those with serious health and disability problems, were revealed in a survey conducted by ITV News.

At the same time, separate figures revealed extraordinary delays in discharging patients from hospitals into nursing homes. Almost three quarters of hospitals in England have had patients wait for more than 100 days to be discharged, even though they are medically fit to leave, a study suggests.

A third report from the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank yesterday concluded that Britain needs to recruit 1.6million health and social care workers in the next five years.

With the care system said to be facing a £2.6billion black hole, council leaders last night demanded the Prime Minister draw up a new solution to the crisis.

Among the 80 councils that provided information for the ITV investigation, more than half admitted that there are delays of more than a month between a package being agreed and the point that it starts. In one case in North Somerset the delay stretched to 377 days.

In all, during a single week last December, 2,351 vulnerable and mainly elderly people in England were waiting for a care package they had been promised to start

Spending on social care has fallen, according to the latest independent analysis, by six per cent to £16.4billion in the year to this spring. Local councils have made sweeping cuts in the numbers of people who qualify for free care or help at home.

This has had a knock-on effect for the NHS, with delayed discharges from hospital – known as bed blocking – soaring 142 per cent in the past six years.

Around 134,000 NHS bed days are now lost each month because no suitable nursing accommodation can be found for patients who are well enough to be discharged, according to a BBC survey. One 62-year-old patient spent 449 days waiting to be discharged by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals.

The details, gathered under the Freedom of Information Act, suggest reasons for delays included a lack of home care, nursing home places and support for stroke patients.

Of 62 hospital trusts in England that provided information on delayed discharges over the past three years, 45 said they had experienced patients languishing in hospital for more than 100 days, the BBC reported.

One patient at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust waited 342 days for a care home placement.

The Government last night blamed councils, pointing to a large difference in bed-blocking figures between authorities.

A spokesman said: ‘Elderly patients should never be in hospital unnecessarily, which is why this Government is determined to make health and social care more integrated. We have provided councils with up to £7.6billion of dedicated funding for social care over the course of this parliament.

‘But this is not solely about money. There is a 30-fold difference between the best and worst performing councils on delayed discharges but certainly not a 30-fold difference in funding.’

Izzi Seccombe, of the Local Government Association, said the care system was facing a funding gap of £2.6billion by 2020. ‘Only genuinely new additional government funding will give councils any chance of protecting the services caring for our elderly and disabled and ensure they can enjoy dignified, healthy and independent lives,’ she said.

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