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OAPs failing to get home care as Town Halls are hit for cash

PUBLISHED: 19:30 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:39 05 October 2010

THOUSANDS of elderly men and woman living alone are failing to get home help because local authorities are strapped for cash, a London Assembly investigation has found. They are being hindered navigating their way through the care system red tape’ which delays help for months

By Mike Brooke

THOUSANDS of elderly men and woman living alone are failing to get home help because local authorities are strapped for cash, a London Assembly investigation has found.

They are being hindered navigating their way through the care system 'red tape' which delays applications for help for months.

Assessments can be "complicated, opaque and long-winded," the Assembly's health and public services committee has learned from pensioners themselves.

Local authorities are delaying dealing with a growing older population because of pressures on Town Hall budgets, so many elderly people don't get the care they need, the committee heard.

Three-out-of-four local authorities only fund services for those with the most severe needs, it found.

Nearly 2,000 elderly in London have waited more than three months for 'home help' assessment, the committee's Home Truths report says.

Even then, 1,500 of them faced further delays of six weeks or more even after a successful assessment.

"These are unacceptable delays which can lead to deteriorating health before they get help," said the Assembly's Health Services chair James Cleverly.

"Home care is a vital lifeline for thousands of Londoners to retain their health, independence and dignity."

An estimated 165,000 pensioners with care needs have to make do without any local authority help. Many are in poverty, poor housing conditions or without family support, especially in socially-deprived areas like the East End.

The report recommends 'preventative' services to cut through the red tape such as an information call-line to plug the gap for people with lower care needs before life gets 'critical'.


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