Advertisement

Demand for long term care rises while number of people receiving help falls NHS figures reveal

The increasing demand for social care services in England has been revealed in new figures released by the NHS.

More than 5,000 new requests for support are now being made to local authorities every day according to the NHS' Adult Social Care Activity and Finance Report.

But despite the increased need, the number of people actually getting help is still falling, after years of cuts to council budgets.

For Jackie Barnett and her son Owen the lack of funding is having devastating consequences.

Owen, 22, has cerebral palsy and is profoundly mentally and physically disabled. Jackie, a single mum, has devoted her life to caring for him, but has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

She told ITV News that all she wants is to know that when she's gone her son will be properly looked after in the home they've lived in since he was tiny. The bungalow's owned by Rooftop Housing Association, which has spent thousands of pounds modifying it for Owen and is happy for him to stay.

But the local health authority has told Ms Barnett that her son will have to go into residential care because it costs too much to provide 24/7 care at his home.

Jackie Barnett broke down in tears as she told ITV News the impact a lack of 24/7 care would have on her son.

She can't hold back her tears at the thought: "I know it would devastate him, he just loves it here, why should he be taken away from everything that he loves and his routine and his friends?

"It's not right, he's not my age, he's not an elderly person to be put into a residential place".

A spokesperson for South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group told ITV News, "While we understand and sympathise with difficulties faced by people with serious illnesses, we are unable to discuss the detail of individual cases. However please be assured we are working with the patient, family and other organisations to reach an outcome that best meets the needs of the individual."

But Maggie Allen, founder of Spectrum Charity, the daycare centre Owen visits, believes people with severe learning difficulties are particularly vulnerable to cuts in care.

She has seen at least four of the families who use the facility have their support package reassessed and says many parents are too exhausted by their caring responsibilities to fight it.

She told ITV News: "What's happening is that they're targeting the most vulnerable people".

The Department of Health and Social Care said "We have provided local authorites access to up to £9.64 billion in dedicated adult social care funding over the last three years".

But the Local Government Association calculates that after years of government cuts there is now a £3.5 billion funding gap just to maintain existing levels of support.

The government insists its much delayed Green Paper on how to reform the social care sector will be delivered later this year, but time is running out for Jackie, who just wants to know Owen will have the small comfort of home when she's gone.

Jackie hasn't yet found the words to tell her son about her diagnosis, but she is writing a book for him which she hopes will help Owen and other people with similar disabilities understand the loss of a parent.

Jackie is crowd-funding to get the book made and possibly fund Owne's therapies and trips to day centres which at the moment are under threat.

To read more about Jackie and Owen's story, visit their crowdfunding page.