Elderly and disabled people who receive "flying" care visits are being forced to choose between staying thirsty and going to the toilet.
An MP's proposal of means-testing winter fuel payments is dismissed by the Coalition. But who will deal with funding social care?
John and Clare Merry both have Alzheimer's. The money to pay for their care is running out and their family faces a difficult choice.
The wife and carer of a 73-year-old man with early onset Lewy Body Dementia has spoken to Daybreak about the emotional and financial challenges facing them as they try to maintain their old life.
Ex-nurse Jenny, 63, said they did not get any initial support because her husband James "had savings over the threshold" and were forced to spend £33,000 on night sitters.
A "catastrophic" number of elderly people unable to look after themselves because they lack the necessary support, according to a charity.
Age UK's director, Caroline Abrahams, warned elderly people would seek help at A&E wards, overwhelming the already strained service.
– Caroline Abrahams
Older people who need help and who are now not getting it are being placed at significant risk and families who care for loved ones are experiencing intolerable strain.
If older people do not receive the care they need and as a consequence end up in A&E units and hospital wards, we have simply shifted people around the system at great financial cost and created distress and disruption for older people in the process.
This makes absolutely no moral or economic sense.
Elderly people are subjected to a "postcode lottery" in terms of the quality and quantity of support they receive from their local council, a damning report into pensioner care has found.
Age UK published their findings into support received by the elderly from social care services. They found:
- Many councils are so stretched that they are only able to provide help to people whose needs are deemed to be "substantial" or "critical".
- Elderly people whose needs are deemed to be "moderate" of "low" are left off the list until their health deteriorates and they require more help.
- The report states 87% of authorities in England only provide care if the need is deemed to be "substantial" with a further 2% only providing care for those in dire need.
- Only a "few" councils were able to pay for elderly people with "low" or "moderate" needs to prevent them from reaching a crisis point later on, it adds.
Some pensioners in England are neglected by social services to the point where they have to "fend for themselves" instead of getting the support they need to complete basic tasks, a charity has claimed.
In a damning report from Age UK, "too many" elderly people were said to have been found without the support they needed to get out of bed, bathe, prepare meals and do their food shopping.
Instead, families with elderly relatives are placed under "intolerable strain" caring for their loved one, the report said.
Age UK suggested access to care had become restricted as many councils battled with funding cuts and claimed local authorities were "rationing care".
Elderly people could in the future be cared for by an intelligent avatar that its creators say is as simple to operate as switching on a television.
Researchers say the system could appear as a figure on a television screen, a tablet computer or as a hologram and be used to detect if people are in pain or have fallen over, before alerting a doctor or the emergency services.
The avatar could also be used to monitor heart rate and blood pressure and remind people to take medication, according to University of Kent, which is leading the research.
The project, known as Responsive InTeractive Advocate (RITA), is one of six bidding to find new cost-effective ways of supporting the UK's ageing population.
The Government is trying to encourage ordinary people to volunteer with the elderly so they do not fall victim to loneliness.
Care minister Norman Lamb told Daybreak "statutory services on their own can't make people happy" and urged members of the public to provide the company elderly people need.
"It's a collaboration and i think if we can work together, volunteers and neighbours, friend, doing their own thing, helping those close to them, then I think we can make a real difference."
Five million elderly people told the Campaign to End Loneliness their main source of company was the TV, while a further 2.5 million said they felt lonely.
Councils are committed to helping people maintain their independence and dignity in old age and provide the best care they can on limited funds, the Local Government Association has said.
A report from the ECHR criticises the poor working conditions facing carers, which they say can lead to neglect and abuse.
– Chairwoman of the Local Government Association's Community Wellbeing Board Katie Hall
As the report acknowledges, the social care system is under enormous strain, with unprecedented cuts to council funding making it increasingly difficult to meet the escalating demand for care which is being caused by our ageing population. While this means councils have to seek greater levels of efficiency, the quality of care remains the primary concern.
Poor working conditions for carers are leaving the most vulnerable people exposed to "neglectful or abusive treatment" at the hands of those meant to look after them, a new report has warned.
Care workers face a combination of inadequate pay, high pressure and a lack of support for looking after the elderly and disabled, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said.
Despite performing a role similar to a nurse, which requires "significant compassion and skill" and "maturity and resilience", carers are usually perceived to be "lower status".
EHRC commissioner Sarah Veale said conditions were contributing to a "high staff turnover" and were "putting older people's human rights at risk".
The care minister Norman Lamb has said it is "unrealistic" to think 15 minutes is enough time to provide adequate care to the elderly and disabled.
Data obtained from 63 local authorities in England by a care charity found that three-fifths now commission 15-minute visits, despite concerns that short visits "deprive" people of essential care.
Norman Lamb said there were too many examples of councils buying "rushed care visits": "It's unrealistic to think that 15 minutes is enough time to help people who are older or who have a disability to do everyday things like wash, dress and get out of bed.
"It's not fair on those who need support and it's not fair on care workers."
The minister insisted the Government needed to help provide "better care for the 300,000 people currently getting home care" and for those likely to need it in the future.