New research estimates more than 500,000 adults are waiting for social care in England.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) said the new figures are a major increase from last year’s estimate of 294,000.
Adass president Sarah McClinton told the BBC it was having “a devastating impact on people’s lives”.
The organisation said the sector is experiencing a growing shortage of workers which is worsened by low pay and the cost-of-living crisis.
In April, government advisers said carers should be paid a higher minimum wage and made permanently eligible for work visas under immigration rules to help tackle the shortages.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which briefs ministers on immigration policy, urged the government to adopt a string of recommendations “as soon as possible” to “alleviate the challenges facing the social care sector”.
However, the body warned immigration “cannot be a silver bullet” to solve “fundamental” problems in the industry, such as “increased demand for care, high vacancy rates and poor terms and conditions of employment compared to competing occupations”.
The government relaxed immigration rules in February for care workers, following an early MAC recommendation, so providers could recruit from overseas to fill vacancies.
On Wednesday the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that it increased funding for nursing in care homes by 11.5 per cent from 2022 to 2023.
NHS-funded care home providers will receive an extra £87 million for nursing care during the pandemic in 2021 to 2022, DHSC said in a statement.
The retrospective Covid uplift provides additional payments of £21.93 per resident per week for 2021 to 2022.
But even pre-pandemic, care homes were already struggling due to rising operating costs, lack of qualified staff, and underfunding by local authorities.
The additional funding for nursing in care homes will support tens of thousands of care home residents with nursing needs, including those with learning and physical disabilities.
Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said increasing the weekly rate and the retrospective uplift reflects the cost of this vital work carried by our valued and skilled workforce to help those who need it.
“It is right we continue to review the cost of this care to ensure nurses can continue providing excellent care and support the needs of their residents,” Ms Keegan said.