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11 June 2012
A new British Red Cross study shows that elderly and vulnerable people are being put at risk by swingeing cuts to home-based care.
The survey – held among both GPs and the general public – highlights concerns that a lack of support for people in their own homes is having a negative impact. This can include increasing isolation among older people, more falls and accidents, and growing pressures on hospital beds.
It also found that home-based care, besides drastically improving people's lives, can also save the NHS thousands of pounds per patient in longer-term health costs. The Red Cross provides social care support for 400,000 people in the UK each year. The survey findings included:
Independent economic analysis of the Red Cross' health and social care services, carried out by nef consulting, shows that home-based support can save the NHS up to £10,000 per patient.
Sir Nicholas Young, chief executive, said: “We all know budgets are tight, but cuts to and under-investment in lower-level care which jeopardise patients' wellbeing must be challenged.”
He added: “Preventative support has been historically underfunded by a system which treats people only when they have already reached crisis point, but these attempts to save money are a false economy.
“There must be a dramatic rethink to the way social care is organised in the future, with a focus on preventing crises before they occur and keeping people healthy and independent for as long as possible.”
Patricia Howe (74), from Woking, knows just how crucial the Red Cross' support can be. It helped the Woking resident settle back at home after a serious bout of pneumonia landed her in hospital for six weeks.
She said: “I don't know how I would have recovered after hospital if I'd been left on my own with no help – in fact, I know I wouldn't have.
“Without a doubt, the Red Cross helped bring me back to life. They were a carer, counsellor and someone to talk to when I needed it the most. These services are so important to people.”