Not an ‘either/or’: Health and Care both urgently need investment in the Budget

Today Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, is reported to be making a call for more funding from the forthcoming Budget, warning that without it the quality of healthcare available to us all is sure to suffer.

His is a call that Age UK supports. The numbers speak for themselves: the NHS is experiencing a degree of sustained belt-tightening that is unprecedented in modern times – this while an ageing population is inevitably increasing the demand for services.

From an Age UK perspective we worry a lot about the impact of this stress in the system on older people, for whom the ability to get the right treatment and support quickly is hugely important – whether it is to help them sustain good health and wellbeing or because they have health and care problems that need to be addressed.  Continue reading “Not an ‘either/or’: Health and Care both urgently need investment in the Budget”

Guest blog – Why is dementia research the elephant in the room?

This blog was contributed by Matthew Norton, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, at Alzheimer’s Research UK

With the Care Bill running through parliament, the development of historic reform of the funding system for social care and much political focus on the integration with the health system, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Gordian Knot that is health and social care integration is close to being severed.

Challenges to health and social care integration

There are a number of reasons why there is still a long way to go before it can be claimed that social care has been fundamentally and sustainably reformed:

  1. The challenges associated with funding reform;
  2. A lack of a concrete and proven plan to integrate health and social care with a focus on the individual;
  3. Structural issues relating to the fact that health is free at the point of use and social care is not.440x210_holding-hands

However, at Alzheimer’s Research UK we are concerned that the issue of dementia and particularly research into finding effective treatments is being missed in the debate around health and social care. Of course we have the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, and this has been responsible for a huge step forward in fighting dementia, but we know this alone isn’t enough. A focused and coordinated effort to create a step change in the way we tackle a particular issue is one thing, but in order to create a sustainable and ambitious legacy it is crucial to build solutions, learnt from this initiative and others, into the fabric of the health and care services. Doing so will continue to improve the lives of people with dementia long beyond any single initiative. The current agenda around social care presents us with one such opportunity. Continue reading “Guest blog – Why is dementia research the elephant in the room?”

Guest blog – Strengthening the Care Bill

This blog was contributed by Baroness Sally Greengross, a crossbench member of the House of Lords. Baroness Greengross is seeking to amend the Care Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords, on the issue of delayed discharge.

The Care Bill that is currently being debated in the House of Lords is a vital part of the changes that are necessary to reform social care in England, by clarifying and bringing up-to-date the legal framework of the care system. A key area that the Bill must address is the delay that those needing social care experience, while waiting for a package of support to be put in place to enable them to leave hospital.

Baroness Greengross
Baroness Greengross

Facing a stay on a hospital ward can be difficult for anyone but for an older person being admitted following a crisis, such as broken hip from a fall at home, it can be particularly upsetting and disruptive.

Recent statistics show that people who experience a delay in accessing social care, go on to wait much longer for a package of support to be put in place compared to when the Government came to power. Someone will now wait an average of 27 days in hospital before a social care package is put together to allow them to go home – 12.8 per cent longer. For those accessing residential care the average wait is 30.3 days. Continue reading “Guest blog – Strengthening the Care Bill”

Who would care for my Mum? Or for yours?

Imagine that one day your Mum is at home enjoying her retirement. She has always been highly independent, fit and well. Until the day she has a stroke.

After a short stay in hospital she comes home. But life is different now. It’s much harder for her to do everyday things. She struggles getting in and out of the bath and even using the shower is a challenge. There are times when reaching the toilet is too much. You have to face the fact that she cannot manage on her own any more.

-2934You do the most sensible thing. You get in touch with Mum’s local social services. You explain the difficulties she is now having. They assess her needs. You hope this leads to some carers coming in to give Mum a hand with those things she is finding too much, like getting to the toilet, washing and preparing simple meals.

Continue reading “Who would care for my Mum? Or for yours?”

Is personalisation failing older people?

This blog was contributed by Clive Newton, Age UK’s National Development Manager – Care and Communities. 

Five years on from the publication of Putting People First and Transforming Social Care, it’s time to take stock.  Have older people entered the promised land of choice and control?  Are they receiving personalised services, tailored to their individual needs and preferences?  Did the £520m Social Care Reform Grant deliver the intended transformation in the way care and support is designed and delivered?

Unfortunately, from the point of view of most older people with care and Photosupport needs, the answer to all these questions is a resounding ‘no’.  There hasn’t been a ‘strategic shift to prevention and earlier intervention’.  The system remains crisis-driven, with ever-tightening eligibility criteria.  Self-funders receive little or no support.  And even those older people who are eligible for a personal budget rarely experience any real sense of choice and control.  What went wrong? Continue reading “Is personalisation failing older people?”

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.

Continue reading “Government announces care costs cap”

No news is not always good news

The Chancellor delivered his third Autumn Statement today. He tried to strike a tone of cautious optimism over recent economic data suggesting the end of the recession and rising employment. Underneath this, however, there were more cuts as Government struggles to eliminate the structural deficit as it has prioritised.

Yet again the biggest omission from the Chancellor’s statement was any plan to help resolve the crisis in social care. We welcome the continued protection for the NHS budget but unless funding for social care is urgently addressed then the knock on costs to the NHS will continue to grow. The announcement of a further two per cent cut to council budgets in two years’ time is likely to exacerbate this if it leads to further reductions to frontline care and support services that are often already stripped to the bone.

Allowing the social care system to limp along, leaving too many older people isolated and afraid of what tomorrow might bring, is not only morally questionable but makes no financial sense. Reform of care funding would be a worthy legacy for any Government, it remains a scandal that 18 months after Andrew Dilnot published his report, it remains unresolved. Continue reading “No news is not always good news”