Dynamics of Unmet Need for Social Care in England

Athina Vlachantoni , University of Southampton
Maria Evandrou, University of Southampton
Jane C. Falkingham, University of Southampton
Min Qin, ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton

Unmet need for social care is experienced where individuals report having difficulty with specific activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), but do not receive any (formal or informal) support. Recent cuts in social care budgets across the UK raise critical questions about the changing nature and extent of unmet need over time. Using data from waves 6, 7 and 8 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and focusing on individuals aged 65 and over, this paper examines the prevalence of unmet need for two specific ADLs for which the receipt of support is critical, i.e. bathing and dressing. Prevalence is examined within and across different waves, providing novel estimates of persistent unmet need. The analysis uses multinomial regressions among the population reporting difficulty with ADLs at baseline to investigate the demographic, health and socio-economic characteristics associated with unmet need for support for the ADL at baseline and at the next wave follow-up. Preliminary results show that cross-sectionally, 45-48% of older individuals with difficulty in bathing experienced unmet need and 52-55% of individuals with difficulty in dressing did so. Longitudinally, of those with an unmet need for dressing at baseline, 36% continued to have an unmet need at the next observation. Similarly, of those with an unmet need for bathing at baseline, just under a third (31%) continued to have an unmet need at the next wave. Repeated unmet need for bathing or dressing in consecutive waves was positively associated with higher educational qualifications, and negatively associated with reporting difficulty with more ADLs at baseline.

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 Presented in Session 57. Social Networks and Social Support among Older People