‘He told me he supported the Care Bill – it was really worthwhile meeting with him’

Campaigner Bob
Campaigner Bob
Since October, Age UK has been encouraging people to meet with their MP. With the Care Bill expected to be debated in the House of Commons in the near future, it is imperative that MPs understand how the current crisis in social care is affecting older people and their families. There is no better way than for those with first-hand experience to share their stories with those who will represent them in the debates.

One such campaigner was Bob who lives in London. He gave his account of how he went about lobbying his MP about the Care Bill:

‘For me, social care is a really important issue. Having helped care for both my own parents and my in-laws, I can see how valuable a bit of support can be. My late father-in-law received a care package in the last few months of his life. Even though it was only for a short time, it brought him and my mother-in-law a new lease of life. But it was difficult getting it in place and my mother-in-law still is not receiving the help she needs – it should be universally available. Continue reading “‘He told me he supported the Care Bill – it was really worthwhile meeting with him’”

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”

Who cares about Jenny and James?

Jenny is 64 and her husband James is 74. James has dementia and is cared for by Jenny, who has put a lot of effort into getting an appropriate care package put in place.

In this short video, Jenny explains the challenges she’s experienced in trying to arrange care for James.

Find out more about Age UK’s campaign for better care at www.ageuk.org.uk/careincrisis

Making it easier to manage direct payments

This blog was contributed by Barbara Limon, Policy Programme Manager – Consumer and Community. 

Increasingly older people who are in receipt of funded social care are choosing to take this funding as direct payments, meaning they control the funds themselves.  Whilst there are advantages of being in control in this way we’ve found that the process of managing the cash could be made easier for older people.

direct paymentsIn our report ‘Direct payments for social care – options for managing the cash we look at what some the issues are and have identified potential solutions.  The report covers both the ‘traditional’ method of managing direct payments, via bank accounts, and at newer methods using prepaid cards.

Most of the problems we found are not new – they are simply the day to day difficulties which many older people experience in managing their money and paying for things.  Solving the problems highlighted in the report would also solve many of the on-going difficulties older people have in relation to financial services. For example, Chip and PIN card technology has generally been considered a success, but the need to remember and type in a PIN can act as a barrier to independent use of payments. Continue reading “Making it easier to manage direct payments”

Queen announces landmark legislation for older people

We have repeatedly called for improvements to the pensions system and for urgent changes to the shambles that passes for our system of social care and today in the Queen’s Speech two of our proverbial buses arrived at once. The speech contained two pieces of landmark legislation: A Bill to simplify the legislative framework and funding of social care, and a Bill introducing a flat rate State Pension. Both these measures are very much welcomed by Age UK.

440x210_queens_speech_2012_copyright_uk_parliament_flickr_May2012Improving the care and support system in England is long overdue. The complexity of the legal framework, the raft of regulations to plug gaps and the confusion many people experience when trying to navigate the existing care system tells us that care and support need reform. The Care Bill is a vital part of the changes that are necessary. However the current and future funding of adult social care is likely to be the elephant in the room throughout the progress of this Bill. Social care funding has declined by £710 million in real terms since the Government came to power in 2010. This is at the same time as the population of over 85, who are most likely to need social care, continues to rise. Budgets are falling while demand is rising. Continue reading “Queen announces landmark legislation for older people”

Who can I turn to? Information and advice services for older people

This blog was contributed by Lucy Harmer, Age UK’s Head of Services.

Many older people experience a complex interaction between living on a relatively low fixed income, declining health and mobility, and risk of social isolation. They need holistic, independent information and advice (I&A) from advisers with experience and knowledge of their specific issues. Good-quality I&A is essential to enable people to access entitlements and services in order to maintain a decent quality of life and to continue to live independently. Timely interventions can prevent increased pressure on health and social care services. This is especially important when people in later life and the services they rely on are experiencing unprecedented change and challenges. Unfortunately, many older people struggle to find the support that they need as they navigate a complex system, often against a background of cuts to provision or changes in eligibility.

Government policy increasingly focuses on extending choice in public services,440x210_man-woman-reading increasing independence and giving people more personal responsibility. If older people are to benefit from these developments, the government must ensure that they have access to the I&A they need to make informed decisions. Failure to access I&A when it is needed can increase the risk of long-term or multiple problems. Continue reading “Who can I turn to? Information and advice services for older people”

Have your say – a better deal for older leaseholders

The retirement homes sector has come under fire in recent years over reportedly unfair practices by some retirement housing providers – aspects of which have recently been investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).  Problems include confusing service charges, lack of competitive tendering for maintenance contracts, high transfer fees, high commission charges on building insurance and unfair rental charges for wardens flats.

In response to these concerns, the Association of Retirement Housing Managers 440x210-woman-leaning-on-fireplace(ARHM) – which the majority of providers are members of – has worked with Age UK and a panel of leasehold residents to improve their voluntary code of practice.  The ARHM has also given older people and their families the opportunity to help shape the new code to improve practice in the retirement home industry. This consultation comes after a recent roundtable discussion, chaired by the Housing Minister, Mark Prisk, looking at promoting best practice in the sector. This is helpful, but it is vital that as well as listening to the views of the retirement housing industry, residents also have an opportunity to express their views and influence Government policy. Continue reading “Have your say – a better deal for older leaseholders”