Access to funded domiciliary care declining, says report

The number of people receiving local authority funded domiciliary care has been in steady decline since 2009 putting more pressure on the duties of informal carers, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report has warned.

Figures show that in the six years from 2009, there was a 20% fall in the number of people receiving domiciliary care funded by a local authority or the Health and Social Care Trusts in the UK – and in England alone, a 24% decrease.

This is despite an increase in homecare providers from 5,780 agencies in 2010 to 8,614 in 2017.

The report estimates that in 50 years’ time there is likely to be an additional 8.6 million people aged 65 years and over in the UK – a population roughly the size of London – and the need for informal social care will grow if the accessibility of formal social care services declines.

Last month, think tank Social Market Foundation put the number of unpaid carers in the UK today at 7.6 million, an increase of a million in a decade.

The so-called ‘sandwich generation’ of adult children, according to the ONS, are often providing informal care to an elderly parent while working and looking after their own children. These tend to be women in their 50s and 60s, the report said.

Social trends requiring women to work for longer, including having children later, increased childlessness and changes to the state pension age, could impact on the availability of informal care provision in the future, the report said.

Commenting on the figures, Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘There are still huge disparities in healthy life expectancy across the country, meaning that the poorest socio-economic groups would be hit really hard by any further rises in state pension age – especially those who are in ill-health, caring for relatives or out of work.

‘We also need to create age friendly communities that offer a good quality of life across the generations, by designing environments that are safe and pleasant to live in, with good local facilities and open spaces.

‘If we can get this right it will help to sustain the health, wellbeing and quality of life for everyone, regardless of age.’

Caption: People receiving domiciliary care in the UK 2009-15; Source: United Kingdom Homecare Association