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Satisfaction with social care services at an all time low, survey finds

Satisfaction with social care services at an all time low, survey finds
By Beth Gault
25 March 2024

Public satisfaction with social care services is at just 13%, which is the lowest level ever recorded, according to research by two think tanks.

The survey, published by the Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund, found that 57% of the 3,374 respondents were either ‘quite’ or ‘very’ dissatisfied with social care services. The main reasons being inadequate pay, working conditions and training for social care workers (57%), and people not getting the social care they need (56%).

Dissatisfaction was 64% among those who had contact with social care, either for themselves or someone else, in the past 12 months, and 49% among those who had not.

The research was carried out between 12 September and 31 October 2023 across England, Scotland and Wales.

Cyril Lobont, researcher at the Nuffield Trust, said: ‘Even though social care services are far less visible to the average person than the NHS, well over half of respondents to this survey recognise that pay and conditions for those working in care services are just not good enough. These results are further evidence that the lack of any meaningful workforce strategy for social care is extremely damaging.’

Senior fellow in social care at The King’s Fund, Simon Bottery, added: ‘These are awful results, but they are sadly unsurprising. For many years governments have taken too little action on social care and this is now seriously affecting those who draw on services, the families who support them and the staff who work in the sector. People realise that too many people fail to receive the social care support they need, putting an unfair requirement on unpaid carers, and that staff are overworked and underpaid. 

‘The results demonstrate the need for immediate action to stabilise the social care system, backed by long-term reform and investment. The next government must take a strong step forward and prioritise social care.’ 

It comes as 25 councils in England reported waits of two months or more for social care services, according to an FOI by HSJ. Most councils measured waiting times as between the first request to be assessed for eligibility and the social care service beginning.

Two of the areas where patients were waiting the longest were Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire with an average of 149 days (five months), and North Somerset, with 147.2 days. In Milton Keynes, patients were also waiting an average of 124 days (4.1 months).

Brighton and Hove council also reported long waiting times of 179 days (six months), however they measured waiting times differently, between the first request and the care being sourced.  

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