The recent news that care for the elderly and disabled has been downgraded to protect overstretched NHS budgets is, in my opinion quite frankly unacceptable. It is yet another blow to the social care system and reflects the overall poor attitude to elderly care in this country.
The Better Care Fund, thought up by the government in June 2013 aimed to create a collaboration between health and social care. The decision to split the £1 billion budget between the NHS and social care was widely celebrated by both councils and the NHS as it would have helped to integrate the two services together, benefiting in particular the aging population. The Department of Health suggested that the scheme had the potential to cut around 160,000 emergency admissions and would help to get people from home to hospital quicker when they really needed to be admitted.
However, at the last minute the collaboration was scrapped with the NHS taking home the entire share of the budget in an attempt to combat its never-ending debt problem. Rather than better integrating the services, the breakdown of the scheme could actually increase the pressure on the already struggling and cash-starved social care system.
Social care services are crucial to ensuring elderly and disabled people can remain independent, allowing them to stay in their homes and out of hospital. At present, pensioners are being forced to stay in hospital simply because there is no space available for them in care homes, or their own homes are unsuitable.
hrowing more money at the NHS is not the sole answer to solving the problem of increased hospital demand. It's also about investing in proper care and support, particularly for the elderly as this would help to prevent people having to be admitted into hospital in the first place. By providing more properly equipped homes for pensioners, the NHS would no longer have to take the strain of an increasing amount of elderly patients unable to be discharged because they have nowhere else to go. Because of the lack of available resources the social care system is struggling to provide its much needed services. This lack of support is leading to critical mistakes and medical negligence is happening in homes across the country.
Unfortunately at Fletchers Solicitors we are able to see first-hand the impact these inadequate services have on our elderly population. A recent case we won really illustrated this, after a son received a £5,000 pay out after care home staff neglected his mother by giving her repeated overdoses of a sedative drug.
After the son raised his concerns for his mother an investigation was launched which found that the patient had been given the incorrect dose of medication during her stay at a care home which consequently left her noticeably withdrawn and detached.
No-one wants to see their elderly relatives suffer and receive substandard care, but this unfortunately is the reality of the current situation. The quality of the services currently available for the elderly is simply not good enough, it is high time the government and councils take shared responsibility to invest money in a project that cares for people in the long-term and isn't just a quick fix.