Scotland

Charity warn elderly face increasing waits for social care

Carer holding hands with an elderly person
Image caption Age Scotland uncovered one case where an elderly person waited more than eight months for social care services

Scotland's elderly are facing increasing waits for the social care they need, according to a new report.

More than four in 10 older people requiring "substantial" or critical care were found to be waiting more than the six weeks set out in guidelines.

Age Scotland, which carried out the research, said urgent action was needed to improve the situation.

Local authorities blamed service pressures such as increased demand and limited resources.

Age Scotland found the average time to receive an assessment to determine social care needs was three weeks across Scotland but was higher in the Western Isles, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Midlothian, Moray and Perth and Kinross.

'Too much red tape'

Previous research conducted by the charity found that in 2015 the average waiting time was two-and-a-half weeks.

The charity said more than 6,000 older people (43%) across the 14 local authorities who responded to its Freedom of Information requests waited more than six weeks for the services they required.

Age Scotland's report - Waiting for Care: Is Scotland meeting its commitment to older people? - makes several recommendations including further efforts to attract and recruit more social care workers.

Richard Mayberry told Age Scotland his 90-year-old mother-in-law waited six months to be assessed and receive funding for her care needs.

He said there was "too much red-tape" and "no clarity" during the process.

'Hugely stressful'

Age Scotland chief executive Brian Sloan said: "While many people do receive social care within the timeframe outlined in national guidelines, more than four in 10 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."

"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 timescales or long waits to get the help they need have a significant impact on the life of the older person."

Mr Sloan described free personal and nursing care for the elderly as a "revolutionary policy" in Scotland since it was introduced in 2002.

But he added: "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."

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