Age UK’s Care in Crisis report is not only focused on the current funding crisis in social care; it also sets out what Age UK wants to see from a reformed care system. This vision has its origins in the detailed consultation and engagement which we undertook with older people in the run up to the 2010 social care white paper.
Vision is that everyone who uses care should be able to say the following;
- I receive the care and support I need with no chance of being left without it:
- My care and support services are high quality and safe:
- I am able to live safely and with self-respect:
- I am able to plan in advance before needing care:
- I am able to pay for care in a fair and transparent way:
- The system is clear and easy to understand:
- No family member or friend is forced to sacrifice health, career, social life or future economic security to care for me
These priorities are based on the belief that older people, like everyone else, need to change, to grow, to adapt and to play a full role in society as citizens. The current system all too often seems to assume that all of this ends at the age of 65, after which care and support just needs to keep people safe.
In reality, however, many people face major transitions in older age. The onset of illness or disability, being diagnosed with dementia, loss of close family members, or entering a care home are all major trials of life which call into question people’s identity and future aspirations . Care and support should be available to support people at all stages of their lives and to help people to manage transitions and life changing events.
Older people who need support may want to move to be nearer to relatives. However if someone depends on local authority care and support, moving to another local authority area can be a bureaucratic nightmare; so care packages should be portable.
Older people still want to be active, to be involved in society, the community and family and to make a contribution. Being able to achieve these aspirations is often important to people’s self image, and to their conception of dignity. So care and support should help older people to live with dignity, to be part of a community and to maintain family and social relationships.
People also need to be active as citizens. In our society, in theory if not always in practice, people should be able to challenge arbitrary decisions by the state. For people who need care and support it is particularly important that decision making is transparent and open to challenge, as the results of poor decision making by public bodies can be catastrophic for the individual. So the recommendations of the Law Commission review of adult social care law – which are to a large extent about clarifying and rationalising decision making by public bodies – should be fully implemented.
No one should ever be refused care without a proper individualised assessment of their needs, and it must be clear where accountability for decisions made by statutory bodies lies.
Many older people welcome the opportunities to manage their own care and support (though others may not). So people should be able to obtain appropriate information and support to negotiate the system and if they wish, to arrange their own care. This includes access to advocacy, and to new roles such as support brokers or care navigators.
The full set of policy calls are set out in Care in Crisis 2012.
Age UK are calling on the Government to reform the adult social care system. Find out more about Age UK’s Care in Crisis campaign and how to sign up to our petition.