​1mn vulnerable pensioners struggling at home without state, community care

Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
More than a million British pensioners who have trouble washing, dressing and getting out of bed are in urgent need of assistance, but are forced to battle these obstacles alone, a damning report reveals.

Age UK published the findings on Tuesday.

Some 100,000 more pensioners have found themselves in this predicament since 2014, a situation Age UK says is absolutely unacceptable in a so-called “civilized society.”

Speaking on Tuesday, the charity’s director Caroline Abrahams said these vulnerable people need social care and should not have to suffer alone.

“Not only are they without help from the social care system, they are also not getting it from family, friends or neighbors either,” she said.

Age UK’s report shows the extent to which pensioners are being abandoned, as the government persists with its plans to roll back the welfare state.

This trend was also apparent over the past 10 years under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and Labour governments.

The charity’s figures uncover the extent to which elderly people are deserted by society, with 31.1 percent of those in need of vital assistance left without any help from the state, neighbors, friends or family.

More than 50 percent of those who have trouble bathing receive no help whatsoever, while over a third of those who have difficulty using the toilet are also without assistance, the report says.

Over a third of those who have mobility issues must struggle alone, while 80 percent of those who need assistance with taking medication fail to receive help, it adds.

The research also reveals roughly 67 percent of those who require help with eating fail to receive any assistance, while in excess of 40 percent of those struggling to dress are also without help.

The latest figures from Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the UK’s elderly population is growing. Nevertheless, the state’s social safety nets put in place to keep them healthy at home are disintegrating.

Age UK argues this is having a serious impact on the National Health Service (NHS), as hospital admissions rise. The numbers of unexpected emergency admissions of those aged 65 and over rose from 1,810,531 in 2005/06 to 2,211,228 in 2012/13, ONS figures show.

Meanwhile, community care services have been slashed by 24.6 percent (£560 million, or US$864 million) since 2010/11.

In September, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) chiefs warned an additional £1.1 billion will be cut from social care budgets. These figures include extra funding offered by the government for implementing the Care Act and the Better Care Fund.

Following the release of Age UK’s report, the group’s director Caroline Abrahams said drastic reforms are required.

“This downward spiral in social care and support for older people can't go on,” she said.

“The Budget on July 8 offers a great opportunity for the government to begin to address it and a million older people need them to take urgent action.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Telegraph everyone in the UK should take more responsibility for the care of older people.

Age UK backed his stance, but insisted more financial support for care services is vital.