News Story

Public ‘embarrassed’, as charity uncovers thousands of young disabled adults stuck in older people’s care homes

November 14, 2017

England’s social care system is failing thousands of younger disabled adults who are living in older people’s care homes, warn the MS Society and Care and Support Alliance (CSA) today. These homes were never designed for them and can’t meet their needs, and a new survey of 2,000 UK adults reveals the extent of the public’s concern:

  • Six out of 10 (61%) say they are ‘embarrassed’ by the way our country treats its disabled adults
  • Three quarters (75%) say they would be scared for their future if they needed care themselves
  • Eight in 10 (79%) want the government to urgently fix the social care system, and respondents ranked it the second most important issue facing our Government

This indicates that, across the country, almost one in seven younger disabled adults in residential care could be in homes for older people – where an estimated 70%1 of care home residents have some form of dementia.The charities claim these figures are symbolic of wider problems with social care, following a recent report showing only 32% of 18-29 year olds with multiple sclerosis (MS) have all their care needs met.2

The MS Society has today published End the Care Crisis: Stories from people affected by MS in England, as part of its campaign to make sure good quality care is available for everyone with MS that needs it. The MS Society and CSA are calling on the Government to bring forward social care proposals by early 2018 through this petition.

Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of the MS Society, said:
“It is fundamentally wrong that younger adults with MS are living in older people’s care homes in such numbers. These facilities are rarely equipped to meet all of their needs, and this can have a hugely detrimental impact on quality of life and mental health. This is just one symptom of a social care system in crisis, where one in three people with MS don’t get the right level of care.

“In 20 years, we’ve seen at least 10 government consultations and reviews on social care, but haven’t seen the change we urgently need. Next week’s Budget is a crucial opportunity to close the funding gap, expected to reach £2.5 billion by the end of the decade. Our polling shows the British public are appalled by Government inaction and believe our country must do better to support those who need help to live independently.”

Mark Lever, Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, and Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society said:

“More than a million disabled and older people don’t get the care they need. And while more and more of us are living longer, and many of us are living longer with disabling conditions, shrinking funding means we are less and less likely to get care.

“It is deeply concerning that three quarters of the British public said they would be scared if they needed care themselves. We must have a system that provides people with the care they need, when they need it. The Government must act urgently to bring forward plans to address the care crisis.”

Case study

Wesley Murch’s mum Julie was diagnosed with MS in the late 1990s. She started living in a care home around six years ago, when she was in her late 50s, until she passed away last month. Julie initially went to a home 18 miles from where Wesley lived but her condition deteriorated there, so he moved her to a home close by. The only option was a home for older people.

Wesley said: “I was really reluctant for mum to go into care. She was still very young at heart – she used to go out or have friends over all the time. She was really social, so I worried about her losing interaction.

“I don’t think being with people so much older was an ideal environment for her to be in. It made me sad there was no one her own age she could mix with, especially given how much of a sociable person she was. I wanted mum to be in an environment that gave her freedom, where she had like-minded people around her. It’s important because the mental aspect of MS played a part in how her physical condition progressed. If she had more mental stimulation, maybe it would’ve slowed down her physical decline.”


  1. Alzheimer’s Society, Fix Dementia Care: NHS and care homes, April 2016. Available at:
  2. MS Society, Social care and the MS community in England, March 2017,