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Social care crisis looks far from being resolved

A report being published by adult social care chiefs has warned of £1.1bn budget cuts to the sector. It comes after unendurable cutbacks in the last four years and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Service (ADASS) warns these further cuts will leave those in the greatest need vulnerable.

Penny Marshall, Social Affairs Editor for ITV News, takes a look.

Social care as an issue is always the poor relative to health care in political and public debate - always outgunned by those who feel passion for the politically sacred NHS.

Yet while all the promises have been made about protecting the NHS, social care has been hit hard by cuts and it is about to be hit again, according to the latest warning from ADASS, Adult Directors of Social Services.

But the distinction between health care and social care is often unhelpful - and to someone in need of care - baffling. Hence all the debate about the urgent need to integrate them, as is happening under Government plans in Manchester.

John Wellman is 69 and has a muscle wasting disease. If he needs help taking his medicine, getting out of bed to use the bathroom or eating at home it's classed as social care. If he gets the same help from a nurse in hospital – it's classed as health care. The latter is free - the former increasingly isn’t - as budget cuts hit the local authorities who provide it hard.

The report claims social care funding has dropped by nearly 11 percent over the last few years Credit: PA Wire

Unless local authorities have enough money to enable them to commission high quality care, many older people will continue to struggle to get the care they need. Age UK now estimates there are as many as one million older people who need help but don’t get it.

And Unison, the union which represents many of the care workers, has collected data showing that 79 per cent of care workers are forced to cram visits and rush their care.

Make no mistake about this - social care is in crisis and I am reminded of a remark the head of Age UK made recently: the only reason we don’t hear much about it, is because young people run the country.

With more cuts on the horizon there is unlikely to be an end to the funding crisis, but re-organization of social care so that it is integrated with the NHS - as is planned in Manchester and through The Better Care Fund – may also provide some solutions.

The inconvenient truth is that successive governments have failed to reform social care and it remains a huge challenge for this government.

Commenting on the findings, a Department of Health spokesperson said the report ignores the Government's commitment to put an additional £10bn by 2020 into health services that are joined up with social care for the first time and the contribution of the Better Care Fund.

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