Around 600 people each day join the growing waiting list for social assistance and support in England, according to local councils.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) said an unprecedented number of people in need of home care, hospital patients and unpaid caregivers are waiting months and longer for evaluation for life-saving care.
The organization said that behind the “huge” waiting lists is a combination of increased demand, people seeking help in more difficult conditions, and a shortage of social staff.
Cutting municipal budgets as a result of austerity, fewer employees due to Brexit, burnout and feeling undervalued after Covid, and the reopening of alternative economies such as retail and hospitality have also played a role.
Care council leaders believe that their inability to pay providers enough to give care workers what they deserve “collectively devalues” older people and people with disabilities.
Adass has been regularly tracking the number of people waiting for social assistance, ratings and reviews since November.
There is a real feeling that by not paying staff well enough, we are actually collectively devaluing older people and people with disabilities in need of care and support, so they are inferior to everyone else.Katie Williams, Adass
About 83 of the 152 councils surveyed responded to his latest count, and Adass extrapolated the numbers to come up with national estimates.
As of April 30, about 294,449 people were waiting for estimates, up 44.2% from five months, according to data provided to the PA news agency.
This is 90,208 more people than in November, equivalent to an average of 600 people every day.
Of these, it is estimated that a quarter (73,792 people) have been waiting for more than half a year (an increase of 79.1% from 41,192 people in November).
An estimated 37,447 people are waiting for care or direct payments so they can start organizing their care, up 47% over the same time period.
Overall, more than half a million people (542,002) are estimated to be waiting to be evaluated, tested or treated, up 36.9% from 395,845 people in November.
The affiliate has warned that people are suffering at home without adequate support and some are dying alone.
Family members are being forced to quit their jobs to care for their loved ones as their needs grow, raising fears that poverty among such families will rise as the cost of living crisis deepens, while relatives receive a “grossly inadequate” care allowance. .
The backlog is already putting additional pressure on the National Health Service as people need to go to the hospital after conditions at home worsen.
And for those preparing to be discharged from the hospital, there will be a long wait for a social assistance package that will allow them to live safely in their own home.
Adass said employers are worried they can’t hire or are losing employees as people constantly take care of family members.
His recent research found that more people are seeking help because of problems in the health care system, lack of public services, and failure of unpaid caregivers.
The body is calling for an urgent injection of funds – echoing calls made earlier on Thursday by the House of Commons Committee on Equalization, Housing and Communities, which said the “busted” sector needed money before the end of the year.
Adass chief executive Cathy Williams told the PA that social service leaders are “really afraid of this winter” and “see no way out” without public investment.
They believe that the “extremely low” wages of caregivers is an injustice to staff and those they support.
She continued: “There is a real feeling that by not paying staff well enough, we are collectively devaluing older people and people with disabilities who need care and support, so they are inferior to everyone else.”
Careers UK said family members are providing more care than they were at the height of the pandemic and will not be able to cope unless more is invested in social care services.
CEO Helen Walker said: “In a cost-of-living crisis, large support gaps are impacting the ability of thousands of people to stay at work and pay rising bills.
“Too many are pushed into poverty.
“With hundreds of thousands of people waiting for evaluation or service, sustainable funding for social assistance is essential.”
Growing waiting lists for care assessments bring poverty to older people and their families and are the clearest demonstration that our social safety net is failing.Caroline Abrahams, Age UK
Age UK said it was “very concerned” that so many people are waiting for “just the first step in what can be quite a lengthy process”.
Elderly people waiting alone, without family or friends, won’t be able to stay safe and end up in the hospital as a result, charity director Caroline Abrahams warned.
“Growing waiting lists for care assessments are causing distress for older people and their families and are the clearest indication that our welfare system is failing,” she said.
“One of the biggest challenges is the lack of staff to care for the elderly in their own homes, and the government urgently needs to improve conditions for these jobs as they have become uncompetitive over the past few years.”
The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a question whether it would provide immediate funding to help councils catch up.
A spokesman said: “We have made it clear that adult welfare reform is a priority for this government and are investing £5.4 billion over three years.
“This includes £3.6bn to reform the charging system for social services and enable all local governments to move towards paying providers a fair cost of care, as well as another £1.7bn to kick-start significant improvements to adult welfare. in England.
“We value everything our incredible caring workforce does and to ensure they are supported, we are setting aside at least £500 million for investment and workforce development.”