United Kingdom

Help from social services

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Although stable over the past few years, the proportion of elderly households in England who are receiving home care from social services has halved since 1994.
  • One of the major reasons for this is that available resources are being increasing focussed on those deemed most in need, with a corresponding trend away from socially-oriented support and towards care-oriented support.
  • A smaller proportion of older people are helped to live at home in the South (outside London) than elsewhere in England, with the range around 110 people per 1,000 population aged 75 and over in the South compared to 170 in the North East.
  • On average, English county councils support a smaller proportion of older people to live independently at home than urban authorities: 115 people per 1,000 population aged 75 and over compared to 140 in metropolitan authorities and 150 in inner London.
  • See the Scotland and Wales indicators for the equivalent analysis for Scotland and Wales.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

The quality and appropriateness of services that older people receive is critical to their well-being and quality of life.

For older people, their homes are often central to their social identity, and the effects of ageing mean that older people spend increasing amounts of time within their homes. 1  Both the feasibility and the quality of the experience can depend on the support older people get in living at home and these services mean a great deal to older people. 2  Even for older people supported by their relatives and friends, these services can help the person to remain in the community. 3

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the number of households receiving home help/care from their local authority.  The data is expressed per 1,000 population aged 75 and over on the grounds that the majority of people receiving home help/care are in this age group.  From 1998 onwards, the data is shown separately for those receiving intensive help (more than 10 hours per week or 6 or more visits) but this division is not available for the earlier years.

The data source for the first graph is PS2 statistics from the NHS Information Centre, with the day being obtained via the National Adult Social Care Intelligence Service (NASCIS).  The data relates to England.  Note that there were slight changes in the definition of the data in 2009.  For example:

  • Since 2009, the data is a count of individuals; prior to that, it was a count of households.
  • Since 2009, the data is for a sample week in March; prior to that, it was a week in September.

The second graph shows how the proportion of people aged 75 and over being helped to live at home at the end of the financial year (March) varies by region and the third shows how the proportion varies by type of authority.  Note that ‘being helped to live at home’ is a much wider measure than the ‘receiving home help/care’ in the first graph as it includes professional support, equipment & adaptations, meals-on-wheels, day care, etc.

The data source for the second and third graphs is PS2 statistics from the NHS Information Centre, with the day being obtained via the National Adult Social Care Intelligence Service (NASCIS).  The data relates to England.  Note that the data is a snapshot of those receiving services at the end of the financial year rather than all those who have received services at some time during the year.  Also note that this is the same data as is used in the Government’s performance indicator (AO/C32) regarding services for older people.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: limited.  The underlying data has been collected for a number of years and can be considered reliable.  However, ‘receiving home help/care’ is only one possible measure.  Furthermore, comparisons between local authorities have to be qualified by the fact that statistics ought ideally to be measured in relation to need and levels of support from friends and relatives.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Tackle poverty and promote greater independence and well-being in later life

Lead department

Department for Work and Pensions.

Official national targets

None.

Other indicators of progress

Employment rate age 50-69: percentage difference between this and overall employment rate.

Pensioner poverty.

Healthy life-expectancy at age 65.

Over 65s satisfied with home and neighbourhood.

Over 65s supported to live independently.

Previous 2004 targets

Improve the quality of life and independence of vulnerable older people by supporting them to live in their own homes where possible by:

  • increasing the proportion of older people being supported to live in their own home by 1% annually in 2007 and 2008; and
  • increasing by 2008, the proportion of those supported intensively to live at home to 34% of the total of those being supported at home or in residential care.

The numbers

Graph 1

Year The number of households receiving help per 1,000 population aged 75 and over
Total Intensive Non-intensive
1993 147
1994 156
1995 143
1996 134
1997 129
1998 118 17 102
1999 111 19 92
2000 108 20 88
2001 103 21 82
2002 97 22 76
2003 96 23 73
2004 93 24 69
2005 92 25 66
200688 26 63
200784 26 58
200882 26 56
200984 28 57
201083 28 55

Graph 2

Region Proportion of people aged 75 and over helped to live at home per 1,000 population aged 75 and over
East 113
East Midlands 123
Inner London 152
Outer London 137
North East 169
North West 125
South East 114
South West 107
West Midlands 124
Yorkshire and The Humber 149

Graph 3

Type of authority Proportion of people aged 75 and over helped to live at home per 1,000 population aged 75 and over
County councils 113
Unitary authorities 137
Metropolitan authorities 136
Outer London boroughs 137
Inner London boroughs 152
1. Clark et al, The importance of ‘low level’ preventative services to older people, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 1996. 
2. Clark et al, The importance of ‘low level’ preventative services to older people, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 1996. 
3. Beresford and Turner, It’s our welfare, Citizen’s Commission on the Future of the Welfare State, 1997, page 82.  One older woman interviewed said that, “more should be done before people get really frail.  If more money was spent on prevention, people would not begin to feel they could not cope.”