Vulnerable people aren’t getting the care they need

Swingeing cuts to preventative care could leave thousands without the care they need if we are not careful – but the voluntary sector can help.

Share
Fact File
  • 76 per cent of councillors are worried about the elderly and vulnerable in their local area
Related Topics

It’s a simple truth: cuts hurt.

Whether you’re talking about a scratch to someone’s arm or a deep cut to funding that affects thousands of people, the net result will always be the same.

And across the country, as drastic decreases to social care provision kick in, many local authorities are already starting to wince.

According to a new ComRes poll, commissioned by the British Red Cross, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of councillors have seen funding for preventative and low-level social care cut or frozen since the last local election.

And where cuts (averaging 16 per cent) have taken place, 76 per cent of councillors are worried about the elderly and vulnerable in their local area. It gets worse: in areas affected by cuts, 69 per cent of councillors clearly state that, as things stand, people in need will not receive the appropriate care.

Invest to save

So let’s put it bluntly: cuts and underfunding to preventative social care are leaving vulnerable people at risk. With their budgets slashed by central government, local authorities have cut back on lower level services and the impact is already being felt.

This is not only bad news for elderly and vulnerable people, but bad economics. Imposing short-term cuts and spending freezes now could actually leave local authorities worse off financially very soon afterwards, whereas investing in preventative care will ultimately lead to savings as fewer people need intensive and expensive support.

Amid such confusion, it’s important to recognise the unquestionable benefits that the voluntary sector can bring to this troubled area – both in providing quality short-term care for the most vulnerable and saving millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Reduced admissions

The business advisory firm Deloitte recently looked in depth at six of the Red Cross’ 100-plus preventative support schemes across the UK. They found that, on average, we offer a return on investment of 147 per cent to health and social care commissioners – that’s a sizeable £8 million savings for the NHS and social care providers each year.

How we do this is pretty straightforward. By providing preventative and follow-up support at the vital stages, our volunteers and staff help prevent hospital stays, reduce levels of readmission, and minimise the need for expensive residential care. The savings from all this activity soon add up.

Take just one example from Deloitte’s report. In Bristol, a single Red Cross scheme – which helps resettle vulnerable A&E patients back at home – saves around £168 per service user. That alone makes an annual saving of £46,000 to commissioners.

‘Huge relief’

But it’s not just about the money. Crucially, the Red Cross’ brand of preventative care means that elderly and vulnerable people are often able to get the support they need at home during a rough patch, precluding the need for hospital admission. (For many, the process of leaving home for a hospital bed is as unsettling as their ailment itself, so this matters.)

Even following a hospital visit, having the Red Cross’ support means vulnerable people – especially those who live alone – can return home much more quickly, empowering them and freeing up much-needed beds.

What’s more, we regularly prevent hospital re-admissions. Take Colin Watson, for example.  Following treatment for bowel cancer recently, the weakened 69-year-old had to be carried up the stairs to his second-floor council flat. He was in a real bind.

Colin recalled: “I was really struggling and didn’t know what to do. I’d been told to follow a very specific diet, but only had one electric hot plate and had never cooked properly. So when the Red Cross came, it was a huge relief. Besides doing household chores, they provided a microwave, got my shopping and prepared my meals.

“If they hadn’t been there, I’d definitely have been re-admitted to hospital – their support was fantastic. You can’t underestimate this kind of support and thankfully, I’m now making a good recovery.”

Duty of care

Given that the UK’s financial outlook is set to remain bleak for years to come, the preventative approach to health and social care is merely common sense. Of course, the Red Cross welcomes the government’s commitment to putting prevention at the heart of social care reform, but more still needs to be done to make this commitment a reality.

Everyone accepts that times are tough and there’s a need for collective belt-tightening. But in a civilised society, that shouldn’t mean ignoring our duty of care to the most vulnerable. Just because there’s less money to go around doesn’t mean these people need our help any less.

In the face of unprecedented pressures on local authority budgets, ring-fenced funds must be allocated for preventative social care services to ensure those who most need help get the right support at the right time. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.”

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

The 'caliphate'? We’ve heard Obama’s language of the Crusades before

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan