Adult social services are facing a deluge of requests for care and support from older and disabled people as society opens up after Covid-19, council leaders have warned.
A survey, conducted by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), has found that local councils responsible for social services are facing sharply rising numbers of people coming forward for help.
Service directors fear that people will have to wait longer for less care and support unless the government steps in with more funding and launches its long-awaited social care reforms.
More than half (69%) of the 91 survey respondents said people were being referred for support from the community, with almost half reporting a rise of more than 10% over the last six months.
Nearly two thirds of directors (68%) said more people were presenting with mental health issues and 57% said more people with care and support needs were seeking help for domestic abuse or safeguarding.
Stephen Chandler (pictured), the new president of ADASS, said: “Some of the numbers we are seeing are phenomenal. The trends are unsustainable and show why the Government must publish its plans for social care as a matter of urgency.
“Our findings demonstrate very starkly that the crisis in social care is not just a crisis in the way we support older people. Half our spending is on help for adults of working age.”
The findings point to the strain that family carers have been under during the pandemic. Of responding directors, 67% said they were seeing more people seeking help because of breakdown in carer arrangements – 27% reporting a rise of more than 10%.
The survey also shows the inter-dependence of social care and the NHS in the wider health and care system. Of responding directors, 48% said they were being asked to support more people awaiting admission to hospital and 75% said they were dealing with more people being discharged and asking for help from their local council – 55% reporting a rise of more than 10% in numbers of requests following discharge over the six months.
Commenting on the report, Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, said: “It is noted that Directors of social services are seeing at the frontline the very real challenges that communities face in accessing a social care system that is desperately in need of meaningful reform.
“Their report also tells a tale of increasing demand, combined with real concerns about the ability of social care services to deliver the very things that people need in a COVID world. The NCF supports the call by the new ADASS president, Stephen Chandler, for a long term 10-year plan for social care.”