fastingA new report investigating the state of social care through the eyes of individuals and families reveals a system struggling to cope. The Real Lives report, published by the Richmond Group of Charities in partnership with the British Red Cross and the Royal Voluntary Society, sets out the real life experience of seven individuals and families using social care services today.

The report concludes: 'Six consecutive years of budget reductions to publicly-funded care, increasing demand, increasingly acute levels of need, workforce pressures, provider failure and market exit are all converging to create the perfect storm. The net effect of these pressures is now clear: social care in its current form is not sustainable and requires both immediate investment and long-term reform to prevent crisis and meet the aspirations of the Care Act 2014.'

The Real lives report tells the human stories behind a major report, Social care for older people: Home truths, published  by the King's Fund and Nuffield Trust.  The Richmond Group of Charities and their partners commissioned the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust to produce and write Real Lives as a companion report to shows just what this really means for the lives of the people who rely on the social care system to get by.

These include difficulties accessing high-quality care when councils are raising eligibility criteria and increasing fees and charges, and the strain this places on individuals and carers who can end up feeling like they are battling the system. A lack of support for family carers who are not necessarily receiving the help they need or are entitled to under the 2014 Care Act. In addition, care packages that are not personalised to the aspirations and needs of individuals.

Tom Wright, CEO of Age UK and Chair of the Richmond Group said: 'It's when you see how serious the impact is on real people's lives that the true nature of the social care crisis hits home. ‎We have become so used to headlines about problems like the large numbers of care businesses closing that it is easy to forget that it is hundreds and thousands of older and disabled people and their families who ultimately pay the price - together of course with the care staff who do vitally important work for pretty low pay.'