Over the past five years local councils have seen their budgets slashed with a huge impact on the amount of elderly care they are able to provide. Research carried out by Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) and reported in The Telegraph shows that councils have lost 31% of their care budgets in just five years.

A lack of available services from local councils has forced many people to turn to the NHS for help. In doing so, it has contributed significantly to the already prominent bed blocking crisis and costing the NHS almost £670million on patients who – with care support available – could otherwise be discharged, according to research by Age UK.

The Age UK study estimated that patients spend a combined 399,000 days in hospital in the last year while waiting for suitable care to become available. This costs taxpayers an average of £1,925 per week, while the average cost of residential care or home care is £558 and £357 per week respectively.  It is clear a coherent approach to resolving the bed-blocking crisis is needed, with the NHS working with social care providers to support elderly patients’ needs. Caroline Abrahams, Director of the Age UK, illustrates this perfectly when she asks: “Why waste precious NHS resources in this way, when it would be so much better to fund social care properly instead?”

Aside from the financial implications, previous Prestige Nursing + Care blogs have examined the damaging impact that bed blocking and staying in hospital can have on individuals, leaving them feeling isolated in unfamiliar surroundings. Instead, home care can provide personable support in their own home which helps the elderly to maintain some independence, while in turn reducing the burden and the cost on the NHS.

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These issues will not be resolved by themselves when there are new cuts planned across services by the Conservative government which will further limit elderly care. It remains of paramount importance that care funding is not neglected and that government and leaders in the care sector make better use of the available resources to resolve the issue of bed-blocking.