A new report has indicated a growing concern among council directors for funding complex care and support for working-age disabled people, who are often overlooked in conversations around social care.
The latest ADASS Spring Survey reveals that whilst much of media and political focus is on care and support for older people, 49% of directors of social services are most concerned about funding care and support for younger people with increasingly complex needs resulting from learning disabilities and mental health issues.
This compares to 3% of the 147 directors surveyed between May 20 and June 18 who said their biggest concern was financial pressures relating to older people. This figure is down from 11% in 2020.
The responses confirm a trend identified in recent years’ surveys. In 2018/19, 32% of directors reported that their biggest area of concern was for younger adults accessing care and support. A year later, this figure grew to 39%.
ADASS president Stephen Chandler said: “This survey underlines that the money is not there to address increasingly complex needs despite the ingenuity, commitment, compassion and courage that have been demonstrated by those who work in care and who care for family members, and despite the forbearance of people needing care, support and safeguards, people who are, in many cases, least able to make their voices heard.”
When asked what the issue of biggest concern was about future financial pressures, respondents ranked “unit price for care packages to support people with increasing complexity of care needs” in the top spot, followed by demographic pressures; COVID-19 related pressures; and unit price of care relating to staffing costs.
The report also revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has created an “avalanche” of demand for social care, with nearly 55,000 older people and disabled adults waiting for an assessment of their needs.
A further 19,000 people who have been and assessed and deemed eligible are waiting for a service or direct payment to arrange their care and support. Of those awaiting assessment, almost 7,000 have been waiting more than six months.
Commenting on the report, Richard Kramer, CEO of Sense, a UK charity for people with complex disabilities, said: “These findings make the impact of the pandemic on social care, and those who need social care support, devastatingly clear. After 18 months of immense pressure on the already beleaguered system, thousands of people, including those with complex disabilities, are now waiting for help with their care and support, unable to live the lives they want to lead.
“The pandemic has had a brutal impact on disabled people and their families, affecting their physical and mental health, and without immediate reform, they will continue to experience hardship.
“We need a dedicated recovery plan for disabled people and their families to ensure they receive the right care and support as we move out of lockdown.
“Government must urgently set out a plan for social care reform that works for working-age disabled people and use the upcoming spending review to plug immediate funding gaps.”
Image credit: Skills for Care.