The findings come in a study by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.
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Hundreds of thousands of people are waiting for an assessment of their care needs or service, a bleak study reveals today.
More than 1.5 million hours of commissioned home care could not be provided between August and October because of lack of staff, according to a survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.
It rang alarm bells over a “rapidly deteriorating picture” as the Government faces renewed criticism of its plans for social care.
ADASS President Stephen Chandler said: “This survey confirms our worst fears. Red lights are flashing right across our dashboard.
“Despite magnificent efforts by the committed, courageous and compassionate people working in social care who are delivering extraordinary amounts of care and support, services are failing to meet everyone’s needs and older and disabled people are suffering.
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“The Government must now acknowledge the scale of the crisis and step in with emergency funding and measures to ensure we can get through the winter ahead.”
ADASS said more than half the directors of adult social services in England took part in its poll.
Findings indicate that 391,000 people are waiting for an assessment or overdue reassessment of their care needs, or for a service to be provided after assessment.
More than 40,000 people have been waiting longer than six months for an initial assessment.
ADASS called for help to “raise the pay and status of care work and put it on a professional footing in the long term”.
The Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board chairman, David Fothergill, said: “As we head into another difficult winter, these figures are a stark reminder of the immense scale of the challenge facing people in need or in receipt of adult social care and those who work with them.
“This insightful report on what social care directors are facing on the ground and what actions they want to see makes essential reading for government.
“We face a huge recruitment and retention crisis in the care workforce, with more than 100,000 vacancies and leaving hundreds of thousands more without essential support.
“Everyone should be able to live the life they want to lead and investment in adult social care is an investment in all of us.”
A Government spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering world-leading social care, that’s why we are investing an additional £5.4 billion over three years, which will allow us to build our comprehensive adult social care reform programme.
“Care homes and home care providers are already benefiting from the new £162.5million workforce retention and recruitment fund to assist local authorities and care providers in working together to ease workforce pressures in a variety of ways.”
The Mirror is campaigning for Fair Care for All.