Thousands of home care workers for the over 65s are needed if the main parties’ manifesto pledges to reform social care are to be met, according to The Nuffield Trust.

The trust says there are around 165,000 over 65s in England who need help at home with activities like getting dressed, washing and eating, who are not receiving this help from professionals, family or friends.

Researchers worked out how many new full-time home care workers would be needed to provide the missing care and calculated 48,000 would be needed to provide one hour of help a day, and just under 90,000 would be needed to deliver two hours of care a day.

The Nuffield Trust said that the expansion of social care is discussed in the Labour party’s pledge for free personal care for the over 65s, while the Conservative party indicates a principle to “give every person the dignity and security that they deserve” – though the trust stated there are a lack of concrete proposals in the latter’s manifesto.

Nuffield said politicians must urgently put in place plans to expand and retain the care workforce by making drastic improvements to pay, working conditions and training opportunities in order to make care work an attractive career.

It also affirmed the next government should ensure any future migration system does not restrict social care staff from entering the country to work after Brexit.

In addition, the trust said the next government should promote policies that support people financially as well as policies that make it possible for people to balance work with caring for an older or disabled relative.

Natasha Curry, deputy director of policy at the Nuffield Trust, said: “Caring for people who are currently struggling with no support will take time, money and – crucially – thousands more home care workers. We must be prepared to hire and hold on to much-needed social care workers from home and abroad – and that means being open to so-called ‘low-skilled migration’. Without doing this it will be impossible to expand social care to those who need it. Whoever is prime minister on 13 December needs to grasp the nettle and put forward clear proposals for funding and staffing social care if thousands of people are not to continue to suffer.”