Social Care: Calls for government to 'just care a bit more'

Jane Credit: ITV News
  • Video report by ITV News reporter Rebecca Barry

The partner of one of thousands of vulnerable adults struggling to get the social care help they need has said all she wants is for the Government to "just care a bit more" and see herself, her partner, and others like them "as people and not as numbers".

Jane Clark, whose partner Pete Brookes needs three visits a day from carers - to help him get out of bed, shower and use the toilet - told ITV News she was often left to fill the care void, as sometimes carers failed to turn up at all amid the ongoing crisis surrounding home care.

Speaking about the difficulties she and Pete have faced since he had a stroke in 2013, she said she had been left feeling "scared" to look to the future as she feared what would happen if there ever came a time when she could not help her husband when the social care system let them down.

Jane and Pete are not alone in their struggle to get help at home - an ITV News investigation found that during a single week in England last year almost 16,000 hours of social care commissioned by local authorities were not delivered.

The investigation also found 88% of councils in England who responded to a Freedom of Information request from ITV News did not deliver all of the social care they'd promised.

Four local authorities admitted more than 1000 hours of commissioned social care went undelivered during the week December 5 to 9, 2016.

Reasons for missed social care visits included care agency staff shortages, sickness and delays, and occasions when the care receiver refused care or was away from home.

Examples of the unmet adult social care hours during the week of December 5 to 9, 2016 include:

  • 1,559 hours went unmet for 141 people waiting for care while living in Oxfordshire

  • 1074.5 hours went unmet, with no reason given, in Northamptonshire

  • 953 hours went unmet, with no reason given, in Wakefield

Local authorities across the UK have blamed cuts for the problems providing social care but the Government said it was giving councils access to new money to help them deliver the service.

Councils said they are struggling to provide the social care people need because of lack of funding.

The leader of Kirklees Council told ITV News last week that by the end of next year, government funding cuts mean schooling and social care will be the only services the council can afford.

Department of Health says it is local authorities access to £7.6bn of new money for adult social care Credit: ITV News

The Department of Health said it was giving local authorities access to £7.6 billion of new money for adult social care in recognition that “vulnerable people must get prompt, dignified care and councils are accountable to local communities to ensure care is provided if it has been commissioned".

But for Jane and Pete and other couples in similar situations in their home town of Grimsby, East Lincolnshire, the struggle to get the help they need is a daily battle.

During a round table discussion with Grimsby MP Melanie Onn, one resident said: "You have to fight all of the time to get what it is you want". Another added: "Families pick up the slack all the time."

In Grimsby family members of vulnerable adults said they were left to Credit: ITV News

North East Lincolnshire Council and Clinical Commissioning Group told ITV News it recognised "the important role that homecare visits play in supporting residents to maintain their independence" and that it was working hard to improve the quality of services.

A spokeswoman added: "We are sorry to hear about the difficulties that some of the residents you spoke to have had with their home care arrangements and we are very keen to address any failings in the system.

"We would strongly urge anyone who feels they have been let down by their service to contact our Customer Care team by ringing 0300 3000 500 who will be able to look into their concerns in detail."