This blog was contributed by Dr Dan Poulter, Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and a member of the Health Select Committee
Yesterday’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Health on the Government’s plans to radically reform the way we support and care for our older people is both welcome and long overdue.
For too long, our frail older people have been pushed from pillar to post when attempting to navigate our unwieldy social care system. The Caring for our future White Paper shows that this Government is getting to grips with reforming the system of social care so that frail elderly people are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Redesigning health and social care services to provide dignity in care for older people is the biggest human and financial challenge facing health and social services.
Not only are people living longer, but they are doing so with multiple medical conditions, such as heart disease, dementia and diabetes. Meeting this challenge will require our NHS and social care system to move from being a crisis management service to becoming more integrated and community focused, with the emphasis being on prevention rather than cure.
The measures announced yesterday make important progress in meeting these aspirations by placing individuals at the heart of the care and support system and prioritising better joined-up care between GPs, Social Services and the NHS. An extra £300 million will be invested to support the integration of health and social care services, on top of the £2.7billion that has already been made available up to 2015 for the NHS to support social care.
As well as providing for better coordinated care, the Government’s social care reforms also will ensure that our hardworking carers are given the proper support they need to balance their caring responsibilities with their own lives.
For the first time, carers will be entitled to a carers’ assessment to identify and support their needs, while £400 million has already been invested by the Government to fund breaks and respite care for carers.
It is not right that frail elderly people are forced to suffer the indignity of having to sell their own home to pay for the costs of receiving care, and I am pleased that the Government has also committed to ensuring that no one will be forced to sell their own home to pay for their care in future under the universal deferred payment scheme. This was a key recommendation made by Andrew Dilnot’s Commission last year.
Our frail older people deserve to be properly looked after under a health and social care system that doesn’t just react to crises, but prevents them from happening in the first place by delivering community-focussed care better tailored to the needs of individuals.
I am glad that the Government has recognised this and is at last taking the action needed to fix our broken social care system so that it better supports our older people.
– Find the latest Age UK briefings on social care here
– Learn about Age UK’s Care in Crisis Campaign here