Commenting on the findings of the inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, the over-50s organisation, said: “The EHRC report draws attention, once again, to the consequences of a lack of adequate funding for care in the UK. We have not taken care seriously enough in this country and it has not received the attention - or the money - that has been devoted to the NHS, even though a lack of adequate care can be just as harmful to people's lives as a lack of adequate health services.
“The view of millions of Saga customers - and of experts in the field - is that home care is a better and more cost-effective route to providing support and dignity to the elderly and most vulnerable than relying on a hospital stay, and much preferred to care homes.
“The vast majority of older people receive excellent care and value highly the care worker who cares for them. But money is time - and cuts mean visit duration and frequency are coming under pressure. If local authority budgets for care continue to be squeezed, the outcomes for older people will also be damaged.
“Cutting funding for care is a false economy: good, fully-funded, home care can prevent people needing urgent care in hospital or staying in hospital longer than necessary and would save huge amounts for the NHS.
“While the Health and Social Care Bill focusses mostly on the Health Service, we believe it is important to increase emphasis on the Social Care side of the debate. There is simply not enough money being set aside for care - event he £2billion that the Government said it would allocate to Care has not been ring-fenced, so it may be diverted to other uses. There is a great variation across the UK in who qualifies for care, what level of care they qualify for – the extent and type of visit - and how much funding the local authority provides.
“It is vital that high standards - including training – are maintained. But the tremendous work carried out by carers and family carers needs to be recognised. They are under incredible time and emotional pressure – particularly those working to enforced local authority budgets and hence time allocations. Unless we allocate more resource, we fear further negative headlines, that could be avoided by a more joined-up approach to health and social care for vulnerable older people in our ageing society.”
For further media information please contact the Saga Press Office on 01303 771529.