Social care cuts leaving ‘a trail of destruction’, says union

Vulnerable older people are being denied showers, visits to the toilet, and wheelchairs, report says.

Government cuts to council funding “have left a trail of destruction” in the adult social care system, resulting in vulnerable older people being denied showers and even visits to the toilet.

That’s according to a shocking new report from UnisonThe Damage: Care in Crisis – which reveals the devastating impact of dwindling social care budgets on older people and their carers.

A survey of more than 1,000 care workers, including home care staff and residential care workers, found 63% are spending less time caring for older people because of staff shortages and two-thirds (65%) say they are working alongside fewer staff than six years ago.

More than a third (35%) admitted to rationing vital supplies such as bed sheets, incontinence pads, and wipes, the report claims.

Some care workers are so overstretched that residents are being denied access to showers, trips to the toilet, and wheelchairs.

“I see clients whose health has deteriorated because not enough time is being spent with them”, said one worker who responded to the survey.

UNISON head of local government Heather Wakefield said: “Cuts have left a trail of destruction and this is affecting those in desperate need of care.

“Care workers do a vital job looking after the most vulnerable in society. But they’re not getting the support they need from their employers.

“Everyone deserves decent care in their old age. But if the government doesn’t act now millions of people will be left facing a bleak and uncertain future.”

The report comes after the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) reported a 25% rise in home care complaints over the past year.

Complaints include care workers being late for appointments, not staying long enough, and failing to treat vulnerable people with dignity. Of those complaints received by the LGO, a whopping 65% were upheld – 7% higher than any other adult social care complaint.

Overall, the LGO saw a 6% increase in complaints and enquiries about all areas of adult social care in England in 2015-16. More than half (58%) of these were upheld, up from 55% the previous year.

Dr Jane Martin said: “Our complaints show that for people receiving care in their homes, it’s often the little things that mean so much to them in maintaining their dignity, independence and a good quality of life. Consistency of care is vital to those who rely on these services.

She added: “We recognise the sector’s work signposting people to us may have had an impact on the number of complaints we received. However, we are still upholding nearly two thirds of home care complaints. This is too many.

“With seemingly less access to advocacy than people in residential care, there may be further people suffering in silence at home.

“So we continue to encourage those providing and arranging social care to think about their own complaints procedures and ensure they are as accessible and accountable as they can be.”