Recent investigations reveal the extent of Britain’s crisis in the social care sector.
Care Home Closures
The number of private care homes handing back local authority contracts has more than tripled over the last 22 months. This has resulted in 4,720 vulnerable adults being left temporarily without care. Some families were reportedly given a 42-hour window to find a new home for their relative.
Compare 2019, where 731 contracts for residential and community care were handed back to authorities, to just a 10-month window last year in which 1,939 providers did the same.
Hospital Discharge Challenges
The impact of these closures on patient discharges is being felt acutely across NHS services.
NHS England data shows that 56% of hospital patients currently fit for discharge cannot leave because there is no available social care to provide them with their necessary aftercare. On an average day, 12,168 patients remain in hospital despite the fact they no longer require hospital treatment and support. A large proportion of these are elderly.
The social care providers contracted to patients’ subsequent home and residential care simply cannot meet the current demand on their services, and so the patient is left to wait in hospital care until any support becomes available. The pattern of increasing care contract returns suggests this challenge may worsen further.
Staffing pressures are another contributing factor to the struggle felt in the care sector. Data released by the Care Quality Commission shows staff vacancies in care homes almost doubled last year from 6% (April) to 11.5% (December).
The care sector is facing immense pressure as we emerge from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Private contract returns, care capacity limits, and staffing shortages are some of the key challenges the service must overcome to get out of what many deem a crisis point.
The data used in this article is taken from the Mirror’s recent findings from a Freedom of Information request as well as NHS England statistics.