Retired people: Health and social care

Almost two million adults across the UK currently rely on social care services.

Over the next 30 years, it is estimated that the number of people over 85 will increase by 180% and the number of people with dementia will double.

A million more care workers will be needed by 2025 to meet the growing need.

Care for older people

In the UK, public spending on personal care for older people amounts to around 1% of our national income. It is now widely recognised that this is not enough.

In England, an estimated 370,000 older people are now going without the care they need because local authorities are restricting care to the most urgent cases.

Councils now must deliver personalised care and support to a growing population with existing levels of funding, while also under pressure to make efficiency savings.

This has led to a focus on trying to use “cash for care” schemes such as direct payments, personal budgets, and individual budgets.

Your agenda is at the heart of the union’s agenda

Dave Prentis

UNISON general secretary

The funding gap

UNISON also believes that the current funding gap is likely to mean that the personalisation agenda – which was intended to provide tailored care packages and put service users in control – will not be able to deliver.

Underfunded and undervalued local authority care services were far from perfect, but the privatisation of up to 90% of the sector since the 1990s has made things far worse.

Care services under threat

UNISON evidence shows that care services are under severe threat.

  • £1bn of the £3bn of cuts to local government in England 2011/12 were from

adult social care budgets.

  • Proposed cuts to health and social care services in Northern Ireland could be up to £2.3bn with an estimated loss of between 6,000 – 9,000 jobs by 2015.
  • Care price packages and eligibility thresholds have increased while those receiving local authority-funded care at home has fallen by 40% since 2009.
  • All adult and disability care services have witnessed serious cuts – meals on wheels, community care transport, day-care centres, specialist community and advocacy support organisations, mental health services and domiciliary and residential care homes.

Many older people up and down the country receive good quality care from committed, respectful care workers. But our evidence suggests that in some places care workers are faced with too much to do, in too little time, sometimes without proper training. This is causing standards to slip and is placing older people’s human rights to privacy, autonomy and dignity at risk, sometimes in very serious ways

Equalities and Human Rights Commission,

Did you know?

  • In 2012 61% of people think that discrimination on the grounds of age is widespread, compared to 48% in the previous year.
  • 16% of people over state pension age are still in poverty and around a third of people eligible for pension credit are not receiving it.

If you work in social care

Over recent years UNISON members have seen their jobs and roles change, mass privatisation, the closing down of local services and ever tighter rationing of care.

The government has introduced the “personalised care” agenda, which allocates personal budgets or makes direct payments, but this does not suit all users.

As a result of underfunding, personalised care often means with less choice, and the growth of a privately-run and under-regulated care service. The replacement of direct provision with personal budgets runs the risk of exposing users and staff to greater exploitation and abuse.

And care workers too are under a real threat of exploitation unless there are standard employment rules and regulations.

There will be more cuts to social care the coming years following big reductions in funding this year.

Demand for services is increasing, but at the same time, fewer service-users are being provided with community-based support.

Rising charges will also result in service users and their families being forced to pay increased top-up fees.

If recent trends continue, there will be a decline in local authority run residential care homes.

If things continue as they are, the last council-run residential care homes will close in 15 years (data from the national care standards commission, the CSCI and Care Quality Commission).