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”

Caring for carers – round up of Carers Week

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, speaking with older carers in Oxfordshire.
The Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, speaking with older carers in Oxfordshire.

Last week marked 2015’s Carers Week- a week dedicated to raising awareness about the vital role carers play in their community, and most importantly, a week dedicated to giving carers a treat.

The week, organised by Age UK and six other supporting organisations, focused this year on ‘building carer-friendly communities’. Each day had a theme of its own, with Older Carers Day falling on Friday 12 June. Carers Week this year fell helpfully within the first month of the new parliament, and only two months after the first round of Care Act regulations protecting carers’ rights were implemented for the first time- a hot topic of conversation throughout the week.

All in all, this year’s Carers Week was the most successful yet. The Parliamentary launch event which you can read about here, saw over 130 MPs meeting carers and finding out what it’s really like to care for a loved one on a daily basis. The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, even dropped in to an Older Carers Day Cream Tea in his constituency. He thanked the carers he got to meet, and commented on the importance of their role within Britain’s ageing society.  We hope this will be the start of a positive and fruitful relationship with the new parliament as we work to make sure carers get the support they deserve.

Outside the political arena, other advances were made to improve the wellbeing of carers. Often caring can take a huge physical and emotional toll on the carer, so events like Carers Oxfordshire’s ‘Because I’m Worth It’ where older carers developed a wellbeing plan for themselves, are essential. Carers across the country were offered massages, free cakes at local cafes, and opportunities to have a chat with people who understand what it’s like to care. In addition, there were thousands of information and advice events- like Age UK Cheshire East’s information stand in a local Sainsbury’s – which are vital for making sure carers get the information they need to stay well. Keeping a carer well is, of course, linked to keeping the person they care for well, too.

At the final count before the week launched, over 2,200 individuals and organisations had signed up, there were 1,730 pledges of support and thousands of events set to take place around the UK- it seems  there is no shortage of care for carers.

For more information about our Care in Crisis campaign, visit Age UK’s dedicated website pages, or carersweek.org.

Caring for life

Maxine and Joan (left) speaking to Maria Miller MP at the Carers Week parliamentary reception
Maxine and Joan (left) speaking to Maria Miller MP at the Carers Week parliamentary reception

This blog was contributed by Hannah Pearce, Age UK’s joint Head of Public Affairs.

Listening to one of my favourite radio programmes, R4’s Soul Music recently, I was very moved to hear one of the participants Ray taking about his life with his wife Sylvia and the importance of music to their lives. They had married in 1953 and celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary in 2013 shortly before her death last year. Ray explained that Sylvia had had dementia in her final years and that life had been difficult but that he had promised when they married that ‘for as long as I could breathe I would look after her.’ It was a small glimpse into the private lives of others and a reminder of the 1000s of people in their 80’s dedicating their lives to caring for loved ones across the country. Continue reading “Caring for life”

Guest blog: Uncovering the incontinence taboo in social care

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Today’s guest blog is from Professor Paul Abrams, Chair of the expert group on LUTS and highlights the issues that arise when continence isn’t given the prominence it deserves.

According to the Department of Health, incontinence is second only to dementia as a precipitating factor in care home admissions and affects nearly 2 in 3 in nursing homes.

Despite this, new analysis published by the expert group on lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) demonstrates that the majority of local authority commissioners do not view incontinence as a priority.

Continue reading “Guest blog: Uncovering the incontinence taboo in social care”