Nearly 2,000 older people who struggle to live at home alone are being refused help every day, figures suggest.
Age UK found more than half of the frail and vulnerable who apply to social workers for care at home are turned down – because they fall outside the increasingly tight limits governing who is eligible for help.
The figures indicate that the squeeze on home care has now reached the point where most of those who ask for assistance from their local council – such as meals on wheels, or carer visits to help with washing or cooking – do not get it.
Councils have changed the rules for care at home by raising the thresholds of sickness or disability they must meet to receive free help. Once, moderate disability was enough qualification. Now only those with serious health and mobility issues are given free home care.
The effects can be devastating for the elderly and their relatives.
Help to carry out everyday personal care and basic chores is a major factor in keeping older people living in their own house rather than a care home.
The Daily Mail is campaigning for an urgent solution to the social care crisis – particularly for the thousands with dementia who are bearing the brunt of the scandal.
Age UK said in nearly a quarter of cases – 23 per cent – those who ask for help are turned down flat.
In nearly half, councils tell people they do not qualify for help but refer them on to other services. These include paid-for care companies and charities such as Age UK itself. The report said 1.5million over-65s have at least one essential activity for which they are denied help.
It added: ‘If you ask for help from your council and are turned down for it and do not have family or friends to step in or enough money to fund your own service, you are likely to find yourself included in this growing army of older people soldiering on unsupported despite having some need for care.’
Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said: ‘The fact 2,000 older people are being turned down for care every day demonstrates both the enormous numbers impacted by our ramshackle care system and how serious the problems it faces have now become.’
The Government has pledged to put together a cross-party consensus on social care reform within its first 100 days. But so far, with more than half the period gone, there have been no signs of movement.
Ian Hudspeth, of the Local Government Association, the umbrella body for councils, said: ‘The serious funding and demand pressures facing adult social care, combined with councils’ legal duty to balance their budgets, inevitably means that difficult decisions have to be made.’