We are living on borrowed time in saving social care for older people

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Over the past year the chorus of voices calling for more funding for social care has become increasingly unanimous and urgent. Age UK’s new report, The Health and Care of Older People in England, provides stark evidence of the suffering that many older people with care needs are experiencing, and of the need for immediate action to avert system collapse.
Continue reading “We are living on borrowed time in saving social care for older people”

‘Stuck in the middle’ – Self funders in care homes

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If you’ve ever made a massive purchase like buying a home or taken out a large loan or mortgage, as you picked up the pen to sign on the dotted line, you might well have had your doubts about whether you’d really read and understood all the small print. Moving into a care home is another one of those huge decisions, with major consequences if you get it wrong. So it’s just as vital to understand what you’re signing.

Yet moving into a care home is frequently a hurried and pressurised decision, which for many comes after a spell in hospital. People are often ill, facing the stress of living with new levels of disability and confronting the reality of losing their home, community and identity. Some will also have reduced mental capacity. At times like these reading the small print is often not a priority and, in any case, many people are faced with limited options so can feel they have no choice but to agree to the home’s terms and conditions. Continue reading “‘Stuck in the middle’ – Self funders in care homes”

The delayed spending cap – next steps

The decision to delay, and possibly abandon, implementation of the lifetime cap on spending on care, is a retreat from a commitment that the Government made in its manifesto for the last Election. As a result, the risk of endlessly spiralling care bills remains and for as long as no cap is in place older people with assets will justifiably worry that they could be ‘wiped out’ financially if they are unlucky enough to need long term care. It is very disappointing that after all the efforts of the Dilnot Commission to come up with a solution so that older people could have peace of mind, this problem remains.

It should not be overlooked that the Government’s announcement also delays the implementation of two other important commitments.

First, although the Government’s decision not to implement the lifetime spending cap received the most attention, a second decision announced at the same time will actually adversely affect more people. It was that they would not be raising to £118,000 the maximum level of assets that are taken into account in deciding whether people must pay for their own care, as originally planned. Continue reading “The delayed spending cap – next steps”

Care cap delayed

The implementation of a lifetime spending cap on the amount an individual would spend on care was a flagship of the former coalition government’s social care policy, and a manifesto commitment for the present government. However implementation of the spending cap, originally intended for April 2016, has now been delayed until 2020. This means after the next election, so this delay raises considerable doubts about whether the cap will ever be implemented at all.

Age UK supported the proposed spending cap in principle and still does, but as we have said before, the devil is in the detail. For example the Dilnot Commission on long term care funding, which thought up the idea of the cap, originally set the cap at £35,000- £50,000, which was carefully calculated to ensure that the less well off would benefit. This objective was undermined by the government’s decision to raise the cap to £72,000.

Now that details of the scheme have emerged – with draft regulations being published only just before the election – it has become clear that the top priority must be to stop the social care system that millions of older people depend on from collapsing in its entirety.The most urgent priority arises from the current situation where cash strapped local authorities have restricted care to the point where over a million older people who are unable to carry out at least one vital activity of daily living without difficulty (for example using the toilet, getting dressed) receive no care whatsoever. Continue reading “Care cap delayed”

A denial of dignity

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The European Court has ruled on a challenge brought by Elaine McDonald, a user of social care services in Kensington and Chelsea, regarding reductions to her care package which amounted to a denial of dignity. This ruling is the final stage in a series of cases that have included the UK Appeal Court and Supreme Court. Age UK intervened in the Supreme Court case.

At the heart of the dispute is the issue of whether someone who is not incontinent should be expected to wear incontinence pads rather than being assisted to use the toilet at night. Ms McDonald has argued that being required to do this is a breach of her human rights.

UK courts, including the Supreme Court, accepted that Kensington and Chelsea’s decision to remove night time care was unlawful in English law as it was implemented without carrying out a proper reassessment of need. However UK courts have not accepted that this involved a breach of human rights, or that the council acted unlawfully in withdrawing care once (a year after the initial decision) it finally completed an assessment. Continue reading “A denial of dignity”

Tackling the future funding of social care

Age UK has responded to a Department of Health consultation on the future funding of social care. This marks the latest stage in the long march to reform how we pay for care. The ‘Dilnot’ Commission on long term care funding recommended a new system whereby the amount that individuals would be expected to pay towards their care needs would be capped. The government has announced that it will implement a modified version of these recommendations. However there are still many unanswered questions about the new system and concern about its complexity.

The proposals are based on a new national system of eligibility for local authority care. The only spending by an individual that will count towards the 440px_older_carers_handscap is that required to meet needs which fall within these criteria – currently set at ‘substantial’ . If the criteria are too restrictive people might have spent large amounts before their outlay even starts to count towards the cap. Age UK has therefore argued that eligibility for local authority care should include people with what would currently be defined as moderate needs. Continue reading “Tackling the future funding of social care”

Joint Committee reports on Draft Care and Support Bill

The Joint Committee on the Draft Care and Support Bill has completed its scrutiny of the draft bill, and published a report and recommendations. The committee is supportive of much of the bill, but suggests that further measures to promote preventative services and early intervention, and to promote integration between local authority social care, housing services and the NHS, could be included.

440px_older_carers_handsThe committee also argues that the government has underestimated the cost of implementing the proposals contained in the bill. In launching the report, the committee’s chair, Paul Burstow, argued that “The government must take stock of its funding for adult care and support and think seriously about whether the transformation we all want to see can truly be delivered without greater resources’. Age UK has similarly called for the government’s forthcoming spending review to make provision for funding a fair and dependable care system.

Continue reading “Joint Committee reports on Draft Care and Support Bill”