Government announces care costs cap

This blog was contributed by Caroline Abrahams, Director of External Affairs, for Age UK. 

Last year’s White Paper and draft Bill make these encouraging times for social care, for decades a Cinderella service. What has been so obviously lacking though is the funding for a better system, so today’s announcement about the implementation of ‘Dilnot’ is a welcome step forward.

Unfortunately, implementation has to wait until April 2017, so very few older people living in a care home now will benefit, but at least some of those who come after them will: the Government estimates that 1 in 6 older people who need care will gain, but by just how much and over what timescale is hard to tell without detailed modelling which the Government has not (yet) released.

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Mid Staffordshire Inquiry Announcement

This blog was contributed by Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL, Chairman of Age UK and Joint Chair of the Commission on Dignity in Care.

What happened in the Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust was a truly sickening and extreme example of when training, professionalism, management, and structures all individually and collectively failed very vulnerable frail patients.

Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL, Chairman of Age UK and Joint Chair of the Commission on Dignity in Care
Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL, Chairman of Age UK and Joint Chair of the Commission on Dignity in Care

Few in the health sector could claim that Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust was an isolated case. Most of us have heard accounts of similar failures in care in our local hospitals or care homes, some relating to individual wards, others more widespread.

Today is a watershed moment for the NHS: 31 months after the  Francis report was commissioned the final report was published on the 6th February. The report makes 290 recommendations on how to improve the system and we must once and for all take this opportunity to make the deep and lasting changes that are required. A ‘sticking plaster solution’ is not going to be acceptable and will certainly not be enough to reassure millions of older people and their families. Continue reading “Mid Staffordshire Inquiry Announcement”

Dignity in Action Day 2013

The first of February marked Dignity Action Day, an annual opportunity for health and social care professionals and members of the public to raise awareness of people’s rights to dignity. There are over 40,000 Dignity Champions across the country who believe care services should be compassionate and person-centred. The Champions pledge to challenge poor care and act as good role models.  Dignity Action Day, organised by the Dignity in Care Network, is a time where local communities can come together to hold events and activities that promote and celebrate dignity.

Many organisations around the country marked Dignity in Action day. Just one example is Islington Age UK. Andy Murphy CEO of Age UK Islington was one of440x210_holding-hands the judges for Islington Council’s Care Worker Award.  The Care Worker Award recognises and showcases the work of formal care staff and contractors who provide a dignified service to residents. 18 finalists were nominated by Care Managers from across Islington with the winner announced on Dignity Action Day. Continue reading “Dignity in Action Day 2013”

Guest blog – Tackling the devastating consequences of malnutrition in older people

This blog was contributed by the Malnutrition Task Force

P3 - Malnutrition Taskforce Logo

Today malnutrition affects more than one million older people in the UK and the associated costs are estimated to be £13bn every year. The effects are profound and malnutrition increases the risk of falls, infections and delays recovery from illness and surgery.

In June 2012, an independent Malnutrition Task Force was  established to tackle malnutrition in older people in hospitals, care homes and their own home. The Malnutrition Task Force includes representation from charities, professionals, NHS, commissioners and providers and is chaired by Age UK Chairman Dianne Jeffrey.

Many cases of malnutrition can be prevented and there are many examples of good practice across the UK. Focus on Undernutrition in County Durham is a community based project that raises awareness and helps to prevent, identify and manage people at risk of malnutrition in their own home, care homes and community hospitals. The training programme for all health and social care staff introduces simple tools for accurate assessment of malnutrition.

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Working together to support older people

The Autumn Statement announced bleak growth figures and more cuts ahead, reminding us all, once again, we face hard times and unprecedented and prolonged pressure on public services many of which older people rely.

This is why now, more than ever, we all need –  the government, public, private, and voluntary sectors and individuals – to work together to meet the challenges and maximise the opportunities our growing ageing population presents.

Age UK, together with our national and local partners, is playing its part. In 2012 we reached over 7 million older people with our information and advice services, our handy person service visited nearly 14,000 homes and we helped more than 65,000 older people keep active and healthy through our Fit as a Fiddle programme. In tough economic times we understand supporting people in later life to make informed choices and maximise their wealth, health, independence and wellbeing is important for the individuals and helps drive down inefficient and unnecessary costs in our public services. Continue reading “Working together to support older people”

Action event on improving dignity in care for older people

Today Age UK along with the NHS Confederation and LGA is hosting an action event on improving dignity in care for older people.   The day will give practitioners, commissioners and service representatives from across the health and social care sector a chance to get further involved in ensuring the delivery of dignified care.

The action event is following on from the Commission on improving dignity in care for older people in hospitals and care homes – the final report can be viewed here.

Discussions today will help us to ensure that the long-term action plan we are developing with our partners at the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association is informed by those commissioning, providing or receiving care.  This plan will focus on working with our members and partners across health and social care to support delivery of the Commission’s recommendations.

The event will include a keynote speech from Sally Brearley, Chair of the Nursing and Care Quality Forum in the Department of Health. There will also be an overview of the Commission’s recommendations on improving dignity for older people in hospitals and care homes, this will provide opportunities to comment on how the Commissioners believe these now can be implemented. Continue reading “Action event on improving dignity in care for older people”

Positive signs for care funding

Yesterday there were ripples of excitement in Age UK.  There are signs that the Government is warming to the idea of introducing a Dilnot-style cap for social care costs and, moreover, are edging towards a commitment to find the money in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. 

The turnaround is surprising – we were somewhat dismayed in July when Government indicated it ‘it support(s) the principles of the approach’ of the Dilnot Commission and that it would ‘consider various options…before coming to a final view in the next spending review’. Hardly warm words. At the time it seemed clear the political will to push forward with reform was lacking.

So while there is still no firm agreement on what a package would be, yesterday’s reports that senior ministers have confirmed they are serious about driving through reform is a major step forward and extremely encouraging.

It’s worth reminding ourselves of the benefits of the Dilnot Commission’s model, and how they would help end the current crisis in social care:

  • These proposals protect people from catastrophic care costs. About three quarters of us will have care needs in later life, half will need to spend over £20,000, but 1 in 10 people will spend over £100,000 on their care needs which can wipe out savings and force them to sell their home.
  • Older people tell us the current system makes them anxious and fearful of losing all of their hard-earned money if they are unlucky enough to need long term care. Setting a cap on what people would individually have to pay means no one faces catastrophic cost. It would also enable people to include care in their overall planning for later life, something which is practically impossible in the current system for even the most conscientious of us.

Continue reading “Positive signs for care funding”