The future for older people in Salford makes for gruesome reading. According to the Council's latest `account' of its elderly population there are currently 33,100 people over 65 in the city, and the figure for those who live alone is forecast to grow from 12,542 (in 2011) to 15,998 in 2030.
Meanwhile, the number of healthy life years people can expect to enjoy in Salford is 56.1 years for men and 59.4 for women. That's 4.5 years for men and 3.5 years for women lower than the England average.
A report to be put before Salford's Health and Wellbeing Board today adds that "Older people often suffer from social isolation (loneliness) and have a negative perception of crime and their safety".
Elsewhere in the report, this concern seems to be borne out with shocking statistics showing that, between April 2012 and March 2013, Salford Council was alerted to 957 possible instances of abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults in the city. Of these 336 "were dealt with quickly by a social worker and were not counted as abuse or neglect"; while 621 warranted further investigation.
However, only 502 out of the 621 cases were fully investigated before the end of the year, and out of those, 257 cases, or 51%, were "substantiated - meaning that we found that an incident of abuse or neglect had definitely taken place" states the report.
A survey done with elderly service users themselves concluded that almost 82% felt that the Council's care and support services helped them feel safer, underlined, it can be argued, by the fact that so many cases of neglect and abuse were picked up and sorted by the social work team.
Unfortunately, Salford Council's care and support services are currently being slashed with £8.9million of cuts this year, on top of £5.3million during the last financial year.
Already, day care centres at Humphrey Booth in Ordsall and Craig Hall in Irlam have been closed with a loss of 64 related jobs (see here). This month the Salford Star reported how the Council is cutting help for those adults with `moderate needs', despite them stating quite clearly in a survey that they "won't be able to leave home", "will be socially isolated", "nothing would help me manage", "would have no quality of life"… (see here)
Now, under the banner of `Get a life, not a service', Salford Council and its Wellbeing Board, is reducing the very care and support services that make vulnerable adults feel safe, and replacing them with technology and DIY care..
The Council is spinning a cost cutting exercise as a positive move…"focused more on helping people who can regain independence so they require less support in future but also maximise their independence". Or, as it states even more plainly, the cuts will "help vulnerable people to live independently plus helping people to develop their own support."
Leaving vulnerable adults even more isolated in this way will surely lead to more cases of neglect and abuse…