2 in 5 wait too long for social care

Age Scotland’s latest report highlights 6,000 individuals & their families facing long waits for social care

Tuesday 28th May 2019

43% of older people in Scotland assessed as needing substantial or critical care in 2018 waited longer than the recommended six-weeks, according to research conducted by a leading charity.

A new report from Age Scotland highlights a wide range of waiting times experienced by service users across local authorities and ‘a lack of accessible information held by them about the reasons for delay’.

Commenting, Age Scotland’s chief executive, Brian Sloan, said:

“Far too many older people are waiting far too long to get the social care they desperately need.

“While many people do receive social care within the timeframe outlined in national guidelines more than four in ten wait much longer. In one circumstance last year the wait was more than eight months. This is too high and action must be taken to urgently improve the situation for older people in Scotland.”

In the 14 local authorities who responded to Age Scotland’s requests for information, nearly 14,200 people were determined to have critical or substantial care needs in 2018.

Of those individuals, 43% – more than 6,000 – did not receive the services they required within six weeks in 2018 – the time period stipulated in national guidelines.

The average waiting time to receive social care was two and a half weeks among the councils who responded to Freedom of Information requests, and while the average time to receive an assessment to determine social care needs was three weeks across Scotland, it was higher in the Western Isles, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Midlothian, Moray and Perth & Kinross councils.

Previous research conducted by Age Scotland found that in 2015 the average waiting time for an assessment to be carried out was two and a half weeks.

When asked about the most common reasons for delays, most councils said they were unable to provide information as it wasn’t held centrally. Those who did cited pressures such as increased demand and limited funding.

Age Scotland’s report calls on local and national government to improve waiting times by providing more regular data recording so councils can ‘spot trends and better respond and plan for increased demand’.

The charity recommends action to further efforts to attract and recruit more social care workers, and to ensure that the resources required to fund social care in the future are met.

Brian Sloan added:

We conducted this research in order to dig deeper into the stories we receive through our national free helpline for older people. It is a hugely stressful time for family members and the individuals concerned, where a lack of information about time scales or long waits to get the help they need have a significant impact on the life of the older person.

While free personal and nursing care for the elderly has been a flagship, and revolutionary, policy in Scotland since its introduction in 2002 we need to face up to the challenges of a rapidly ageing population, more people living with dementia and the welcome expansion of this policy to those under the age of 65. This will require more investment in people and services.”