Are older people in the UK getting the help they need to carry out daily tasks?

New research investigates older people's need for social care, finding that that there is a significant level of 'unmet need' among older people for help with certain activities.

Recent spending cuts in the area of adult social care raise policy concerns about the proportion of older people whose need for social care is not being met. Such concerns are emphasised in the context of population ageing and other demographic changes. For example, the increasing proportion of the population aged 75 and over places greater pressure on formal and informal systems of care and support provision, while changes in the living arrangements of older people may affect the supply of informal care within the household.

This new research, carried out by the ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC) in collaboration with the EPRSC Care Life Cycle project, explores the concept of 'unmet need' for support in relation to specific Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), using data on the receipt of support (informal, formal state or formal paid). The results show that different kinds of need tend to be supported by care from particular sources, for example the informal sector and the state are more likely to provide help ADLs (such as bathing, dressing and help with eating) while help with IADLs (such as shopping and housework) is more likely to be provided by the paid private sector.

It was also found that, the level of unmet need among the older population is different depending on the particular activity in question; at least half of all older people who need help with bathing are not receiving any help, whilst 90% all of those who need help with shopping are receiving help.

Read the CPC briefing Paper on this research here.

Read the full Population Trends article here.

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