Thousands of older people have died without getting the care they needed, a charity has said.
Age UK said it was “deeply concerned” by the plight of older people whose needs are not being met and urged the chancellor to direct more resources towards social care.
The charity cited figures from NHS Digital for England, which show that 28,890 applications from people aged 65 and over for support in 2021-22 were recorded as having died without any service being provided.
While the figures are for support requests rather than individual people, the charity said it was unlikely many people would have had multiple requests registered when they died.
Therefore, they said, the figures equate to more than 550 deaths per week, or 79 per day.
The charity’s director, Caroline Abrahams, said: “There is not enough social care to go around, so some older people wait endlessly for much-needed help.
“It is heartbreaking that, according to the latest figures, more than 500 older people a week go to their graves never receiving the care and support to which they were entitled.
“The pandemic cannot be blamed for this unfortunate situation either, as while it certainly didn’t help, social care services were struggling to secure enough staff and funding in the years before.
“Since then, all the evidence is that the position has not improved and, by most measures, it has continued to get worse.”
Abrahams said the long waits for social care caused “great distress for older people” and put “intolerable pressure on their families.”
He added: “At Age UK we are deeply concerned about the plight of all older people with an unmet need for care, living alone, without family or friends. We fear that there are many tragedies taking place in silence behind closed doors.”
The charity wrote to the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, asking him to fix a problem he had spoken about as chairman of the health and social care committee.
The letter said millions of older people in England awaited care “struggling to go to the toilet, eat, dress or wash because they cannot do these things without help”.
He continued: “When you were chairman of the health and social care committee, you expressed deep regret that you were unable to fix the problems facing social care during your time as secretary of state.
“Now, as chancellor, the spring budget is your chance to help the millions of older people, often overlooked and feel ignored, who expect good, reliable care and support to live in dignity.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Everyone should have access to good quality social care when they need it, and our thoughts are with all those who have lost elderly family members and loved ones.
“We are providing up to £7.5bn in available funding over the next two years to support adult social care. This will put the adult social care system on a stronger financial footing and help local authorities address waiting lists, low fees and job pressures in the sector.
“We are also tackling workforce pressures by promoting careers in adult social care through our annual national recruitment drive and by investing £15m to increase the international recruitment of care workers.”