Changes to our care system are desperately needed Which? finds people forced to breaking point

17 March 2014

Attempting to arrange social care for yourself or a loved one - or even trying to get basic advice about your care options – is all too frustrating, a Which? investigation has found.

We asked 30 people to keep a diary of their attempts to arrange social care support between November 2013 and January this year. The diaries revealed some people were forced to breaking point by their various attempts to get help. Find out what they said in our video, below.


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Social care needs reform

One person described the process of arranging care as a ‘lottery’. Another, who used to work in social services, said: ‘I am assertive, highly educated, used to web-searching – and I struggled. Heaven help others!’

We asked a panel of experts to review the diaries. They concluded that changes to the system were desperately needed.

As part of our review of social care, we scrutinised the policies of government and local councils that govern social care provision and also conducted interviews with families who have gone through the process of arranging care.

We've identified several key themes:

  • People face a maze of confusing advice and information
  • People are sent from pillar to post to find the right support and information
  • Those with the most money (self-funders) all too often struggling to get basic advice
  • Attempting to make care arrangements causes family distress
  • Often, complaining is the only way to get support.

Which? Elderly Care website

Four in 10 (42%) people who say they may need to look into care in the next two years don’t understand where to go for information or advice. The survey of 1,110 English adults carried out for Which? last year found half (48%) do not understand how to access services to help live at home.

Which? Elderly Care, is a new website offering free and practical advice about caring for older people, with information on care choices, including finance and housing options. 

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: 'Organising care is a complex process but we found it’s sometimes made worse by a lack of relevant information, confusing jargon and some services leaving people to work it out for themselves, resulting in unnecessary distress for family carers. We want to offer people free, practical advice to help them with this difficult decision.'

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