Will the as yet unbuilt Healthcare Campus for Hinchingbrooke ever be built? Well if it is not then Healthcare in the Community will likely fail as four in five UK local authorities have insufficient care for older people in their area, with the shortage most acute for some of the most vulnerable in society, research suggests.
The Family and Childcare Trust surveyed councils across the country and found they are struggling to meet needs amid a background of growing demand, budget cuts and recruitment difficulties.
The survey is published on the same day as an undercover investigation by BBC Panorama is to be broadcast, exposing shocking neglect at two Cornwall care homes, including vulnerable people being left unattended and a nurse saying she will use morphine to “shut up” a resident.
The deficit identified by the Family and Childcare Trust means more than 6.4 million people aged 65 and over are living in areas that do not have enough older people’s care to meet demand.
Only one in five councils reported having enough older people’s care in their area to meet demand, the survey found.
Just under half (48%) of the 182 councils (out of 211) that responded said they had sufficient availability of home care and a similar proportion (44%) reported having enough places in extra care homes, which allow people to live independently with 24-hour emergency or on-site support.
Only a third of local authorities said they have enough nursing homes with specialist support for dementia, which is predicted to affect one million people in the UK by 2025.
The survey also highlighted large regional variations, with just 7% of outer London councils reporting enough older people’s care to meet demand. The only area where more than half of local authorities reported sufficient care was the north-east, where 57% responded positively.
The findings will add to the sense of crisis surrounding social care, with delayed transfers of care – when patients are medically fit to leave hospital but unable to be safely discharged – at record levels.
Council and NHS leaders, as well as the Care Quality Commission, have called for urgent action, with the chancellor, Philip Hammond, facing pressure to increase social funding in Wednesday’s autumn statement.
Inner London councils pay the highest rates for residential care for older people, at £649 a week per place, compared with the lowest rate of £464 in north-west England, according to the survey. The UK average for a residential place was revealed to be £27,113 a year.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “This government is committed to making sure older people throughout the country get affordable and dignified care. That is why we are significantly increasing the amount of money local authorities have access to for social care, by up to £3.5bn by 2020.”
Monday’s Panorama sees reporters go undercover at Clinton House in St Austell, and St Theresa’s, in Callington, near Plymouth, both owned by the Morleigh Group.
Hidden camera footage captured one resident left on a bed pan for 40 minutes and an out-of-date prescription supplement relabelled for use by another resident.
Clinton House is being closed as a result of safety concerns and St Theresa’s is under investigation by authorities along with two other Moreleigh Group homes.
Moreleigh Group said it had already removed the staff involved and reviewed its systems and procedures, prior to receiving information from Panorma. Cornwall council apologised for the failings.