Hundreds wanting social care assessments in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble as Covid-related backlog builds
Almost 600 people across Central Lancashire were awaiting the outcome of requests for a social care assessment at the end of last month.
The figure emerged at a meeting of the Greater Preston and Chorley and South Ribble clinical commissioning groups which heard that the pressures of the pandemic were shifting from acute hospital services into the primary and community care sectors as case numbers fall.
It is believed that a reluctance to seek help at the height of the pandemic and the reduced availability of family carers as people return to work from furlough are among the reasons for the surge in social care demand.
Not all of the 590 residents with outstanding requests for an assessment in the week commencing 22nd March will ultimately require one - and the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that Lancashire County Council is risk assessing and prioritising individuals as it works through the backlog.
Jayne Mellor, the CCGs’ director of transformation and delivery, told governing body members that delays in people coming forward for support meant that, in many cases, their problems were now more difficult to deal with - and that they could end up being admitted to hospital if they do not receive timely help.
“When they do present, their needs are significantly greater [than they were originally], with a great deal of complexity - and, therefore, more resources and service types are required to keep them safe and well.
“Clearly, the longer we leave them, the more complex their acuity will be and it [becomes] a vicious circle for us,” explained Ms. Mellor.
She said that community, primary and social care services now needed to work together in the same way that hospitals had done when the majority of Covid-related pressure was on them - and that the CCGs were offering support to the county council.
Ian Crabtree, Lancashire County Council’s director of adult services, said that social care had played “a vital role in ensuring people can continue to live safely and independently in their own home” during the pandemic.
He added: “In recent weeks, we've seen a growth in the number of people referred to social care, as some people didn't want to come for an assessment earlier in the pandemic.
"Many families have also taken on caring roles that they're now either unable to continue, or need extra support to carry on with, as they may be returning to work after being furloughed. Others need the support as the needs of people they are caring for are now becoming more complex.
"In addition, although hospital pressures due to Covid-19 have been reducing, activity is increasing as they start to return to 'business as usual', meaning we're supporting increasing numbers of people who need social care when they're being discharged.
"We continue to work alongside health colleagues to avoid unnecessary hospital and care home admissions to enable people to remain in their own home. We have taken on extra social care staff to support the increase in demand on our services and ensure we can continue to support people in a timely way," Mr. Crabtree added.