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Age Scotland identifies concerning drop in social care packages

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12 March 2024

  • 4.1% drop in over 65s receiving social care in comparison to pre Covid-19 (7,155 fewer in 2022/23 compared to 2019/20)

  • Around 1 in 6 over 65s receive social care in Scotland

Age Scotland has warned that difficulties accessing social care assessment and long waiting times for packages are likely to be behind a significant drop in the numbers of older people receiving social care.

Figures from Public Health Scotland, published today, show a 4.1% drop in over 65s receiving social care packages in 2022/23 compared to the period pre-pandemic. The 2019/20 figure was 174,015 but fell to 166,900 in 2022/23.

The national charity for older people said that with an ageing population and more older people living in poor health, it was unfathomable to think that fewer people were in need of social care support.

Around 1 in 6 over 65s rely on social care in Scotland. Results from Age Scotland’s 2023 Big Survey of more than 4,100 over 50s highlighted that accessing health and social care were the biggest concerns amongst older people, and that the health of the nation hadn’t improved in the two years since the second national Covid-19 lockdown.

Age Scotland’s chief executive, Katherine Crawford, said:

“Our analysis of these new figures identifies a fairly significant decrease in the number of people receiving social care compared to the year preceding the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our own research tells us that the health of our older population hasn’t improved and those who were already in poor health pre-pandemic have since experienced further deconditioning. There seems to be a disconnect between the number of people who are likely to need support and those who actually get it.

“We are concerned that this drop is down to many older people experiencing challenges accessing the social care system, facing increasingly long waiting times for social care assessments, the delivery of care packages or simply not knowing about the support which could be available to them.

“There needs to be a drastic increase in the availability of social care support across the country to ensure people get the support that they need and are entitled to without delay. Without this support people’s health suffers, and needs become more severe. Social care in Scotland is crying out for major attention and reform. It can’t come soon enough.”

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