What is our society’s vision for social care?

This article was originally posted at Left Foot Forward.

Social care is currently in crisis due to lack of funding. The number of older people needing care is growing but rationing through eligibility criteria means fewer and fewer are qualifying for local authority support. There are few services aimed at preventing those with low-level care needs from reaching a crisis situation. The £2bn “additional funding” announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review barely covers the CSR-created hole in local authority care spending and so we predict a small overall drop in funding over the next four years, threatening to turn this problem into a disaster. Reform to the care system is urgent.

The recent announcement A Vision for Adult Social Care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens, forms a part of the Government’s longer-term plans for reforming social care in England. As such, it builds on Coalition Agreement commitments , and provides a steer to the two major reviews currently in progress, these being the Law Commission review of adult social care law and the Dilnot Commission on the long term funding of social care. Following these reviews the Government plans to publish a white paper late in 2011 leading to an adult social care reform bill in 2012. Continue reading “What is our society’s vision for social care?”

Winter fuel payments – a necessity for millions

Winter radiator - Photo: HarlanH via Flickr
Photo: HarlanH via Flickr

With the recent Comprehensive Spending Review protecting universal benefits for older people for example the Winter Fuel Payment, there has been lots of debate about whether better-off older people really need these payments. Opinion is divided on the issue – including among older people.  Peter Preston in the Guardian argued that those older people who could afford it should donate their Winter Fuel Payments to charities – one such scheme has now opened in SomersetContinue reading “Winter fuel payments – a necessity for millions”

New report on experiences of later life

On Tuesday, I joined panellists Pensions Minister Steve Webb MP and Sara McKee, Chair of CSJ Working Group on Older Age to welcome the new report from the Centre for Social Justice.  This interim review as part of their ‘Older Age’ project looks at how loneliness, isolation and social breakdown have fuelled poverty in later life for millions of people. I was particularly pleased with the emphasis this report has on the more positive aspects of ageing. As a society, we need to challenge perceptions and celebrate the good things about growing older.  Continue reading “New report on experiences of later life”

Flexibility versus protection – the new social care outcomes framework

Last Tuesday the nation might be forgiven for thinking that the news of the day was the royal marriage announcement.  Only the sharp-eyed will have caught the news about the Department of Health’s ‘vision for social care’ and outcomes framework.

The Department of Health steers the tricky course between the nightmare icebergs: over-regulation leading to a stunted, over-bureaucratic, box-ticking system where the service user is a long way down the list of priorities; or under-regulation where the service user is left to arrange care with no confidence about the services available, relying on their personal tenacity and energy of family and friends to check that services are going OK.  Continue reading “Flexibility versus protection – the new social care outcomes framework”

Cold comfort

It’s going to be a cold winter. Or at least that’s what I’ve read in the papers – based on varying predictions to do with cold wind from Siberia or lots of berries on holly trees. Or maybe just memories of last winter.

Age UK campaigners outside Parliament for Spread the Warmth day of action

Whether those dire predictions come true or not, I’m going to make another which will sadly almost certainly come true: tens of thousands of older people will die this winter. Those deaths aren’t inevitable. But they’re probably going to happen anyway unless we do something about it.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics released this morning showed 23,100 excess winter deaths of people aged 65 and over occurred in England and Wales last winter.  This rather clinical phrase refers to the number of extra deaths over the four winter months (December to March) minus the average of non-winter deaths (from April to July of this year and August to November of last year). The figure averages about 30,000 deaths every winter. Continue reading “Cold comfort”

Big Cuts, Big Society, Big Changes

Age UK and 71 local partner organisations met this week in the Royal Mint near the Tower of London.  It was an apt location given that we met to discuss, among other things, the impact of the spending cuts. Public spending, the Big Society and health and social care reform are some of the many challenges and opportunities third-sector organisations like Age UK face.

Who would have predicted two years ago that we would have a coalition government, £81 billion cuts package, the most radical reform of the NHS since its inception and far-reaching reforms to the welfare system?  I certainly don’t remember any of the popular pundits painting this picture of the future. The ‘shock and awe’ tactics of the coalition government has provoked two challenges – what does the change mean for us and how do we seize the opportunities that it presents?  Continue reading “Big Cuts, Big Society, Big Changes”

‘P’s in our time – a vision for social care

There are 7 of them, and they all begin with P. They are the Government’s principles for social care, as presented in the new ‘Vision for Adult Social Care; Capable Communities  and Active Citizens’. The 7 principles are; prevention, personalisation, plurality, partnership, providing protection, productivity and people.

The vision is accompanied by an outcomes framework and by a number of supporting papers. These are ‘Practical Approaches’ to building stronger communities, market and provider development, co-production, and safeguarding and personalisation, one called ‘Personal Budgets, checking the results, and one which doers not begin with P, called , ‘Enabling risk, ensuring safety – self directed support and personal budgets’.  Together they represent a continuing roll out of existing policies on personalisation, rather than a revolutionary new direction.  Continue reading “‘P’s in our time – a vision for social care”