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Social care at ‘tipping point’, CQC warns

Adult social care is approaching tipping point, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned, with the number of beds in nursing homes failing to meet demand

Adult social care is approaching tipping point, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned, with the number of beds in nursing homes failing to meet demand.


The CQC called for a funding injection into the care system. Picture: PA Wire 

The CQC’s annual assessment of care in England found there had been a 33% rise in the number of people aged 85 and over in the last decade, but the proportion of people receiving local authority-funded care had reduced.

CQC data showed that a 5-year period of steady increase in the number of nursing home beds – from 205,000 beds in 2009 to 224,000 beds in March 2015 – had now stalled, with numbers remaining static since that time.

Some 81% of local authorities have reduced their real-term spending on social care for older people over the last 5 years.

Knock-on effect

The CQC called for a funding injection into the care system, and warned that due to rising costs, including the tightening of council budgets and the introduction of the living wage in April, care home providers were pulling out of local authority contracts.

It said the knock-on effect had seen an increase in emergency department attendances and emergency admissions, and delayed discharges from hospitals.

CQC chief executive David Behan said: ‘What's happening, we think, is that people aren’t getting access to adult social care and are presenting at emergency departments.

‘Emergency admissions of older people are increasing, and we also know that the number of delayed bed days in hospital is increasing.

Prioritising social care 

‘Without urgent action being taken we are concerned there will be more people whose needs aren’t being met, that improvement in adult social care will be harder to make, and there is a risk that more services will deteriorate.’

Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy said the report made for ‘sobering’ reading, while Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said November’s Autumn Statement was an opportunity for the government to give social care the priority it deserved.

A Department of Health spokesperson said up to £3.5billion was being made available to local authorities for social care by 2020.


Further information

The state of health care and adult social care in England 2015/16

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