Tag Archives: care in the community


Elderly Care: The problem no-one can fix

Gathering dust on a shelf in the Department of Health’s London headquarters is a plan for reform of the care system for the over-65s in England. It is the much heralded cap on care costs, which was a key part of the 2015 Tory manifesto .

It was meant to have launched in April. But last summer ministers announced it was to be postponed until 2020 amid concerns it would not work given the pressures in the system.

Officially it still remains policy, but many doubt it will ever see the light of day – even former Care Minister Norman Lamb, one of the architects of the plan, is in this camp. Instead, they believe it is destined to go down on the long list of failed changes to the system.

The care system has remained more or less unchanged since it was created, along with the NHS, after World War Two, when life expectancy was nearly 10 years shorter than it is now.

But people are not only living longer, they are surviving with more complex conditions that require care and support. So just at the time when you would expect the amount of support provided by the government to be rising, it is falling.

Councils complain they do not have enough money – the Local Government Association estimates the gap between what they need and what they get will be about £4bn by the end of the decade. That would leave them about a third short of what they need

So what can be done? Over the years a variety of suggestions have been put forward.

Increases in tax or national insurance contributions could be used to put more money in – and in a way this has already been done, as councils have been given the power to raise council tax to fund care. But already it looks like that will not be enough.

How much does it cost to be old?

State of care for the over 65s

One million

people with care needs go without help

  • 4 in 10 people in care homes pay for themselves
  • 300,000 fewer people receive council-funded help within four years
  • £100,000 or more is now spent on care in later years for 1 in 10 people

Other options include diverting existing spending on pensioner benefits (the winter fuel allowance for example) to go on care. But ministers seem reluctant to tackle that.

In the dying days of the Labour government, a plan was drawn up to create a universal care system – giving everyone a minimum entitlement to care.

But the Tories leapt on that, suggesting it would be paid for by a “death tax”. And it was soon consigned to the bin.

There has also been talk of merging the system with the NHS – the budget for which is 10 times more than what councils spend on care.

But following Andrew Lansley’s changes to the health service, there is little appetite in the corridors of power for more structural upheaval.

Instead, the NHS is being encouraged to, in the words of one social care director I spoke to, tinker around the edges by setting up shared budgets under a scheme called the Better Care Fund, currently worth £5bn a year.

The result is that councils are left to limp on. Each year, they cut the amount of care they can provide.

It leaves people to pay for themselves, rely on family and friends or, increasingly, go without care.

Elsewhere in the UK, the devolved governments have tried to offer more generous access to help in the home – it is capped in Wales and provided largely free in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The hope is that it will keep people well – and their costs down. But people still complain they are struggling to get the help they really need.

It means those with money are increasingly having to subsidise the government-funded system – people who pay for their own places in care homes pay nearly 50% more on average than the fees councils pay homes.

Meanwhile, those without have to rely on family and friends or simply go without. As always, there will be calls for reform. The problem is no-one seems to have a plan.

Source BBC News

900,000 OAPs failed by lack of home help: They are left alone to cope with everyday tasks such as cooking and washing

Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are struggling to get out of bed in the morning, wash themselves and prepare meals because they are not getting enough support at home, research reveals.

Nearly 900,000 over-65s are being denied help with essential everyday tasks by either carers or family and friends, according to Age UK.

This includes 500,000 who have difficulty having a bath, 190,000 who need help getting up, and 160,000 who are struggling to cook for themselves.

Nearly a third of older people with care needs do not receive crucial help, according to a study.

New research has revealed that 900,000 OAPs are being denied help at home with basic tasks such as cooking dinner or having a bath by either carers or relatives

The charity blames cuts to council budgets which has resulted in local authorities imposing much stricter criteria to decide who is eligible for state-funded help at home.

In some cases carers call for just 15 minutes a day meaning tasks are rushed or left undone.

The Daily Mail has long campaigned for improved care for older people at home and in hospital as part of our Dignity for the Elderly campaign.

Age UK analysed the results of a national survey of 10,600 over-65s which assessed whether they were being given help with everyday tasks.

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Nearly a third – 31 per cent – of those who struggle to carry out some daily activities said they did not get enough help from either carers or family.

Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said: ‘It beggars belief that one in three older people who need some basic help with daily living are now having to do without it.

‘When older people begin to need some help with essential daily tasks like eating and washing they should expect that it will be there for them, yet it is increasingly beyond their reach.

‘This is profoundly shocking, and it’s a direct result of our care system being scaled back at the same time as the population of older people is growing.

‘Our national failure to invest properly in social care not only deprives older people of vital support, it also makes no economic sense.

Charity blames council funding cuts meaning stricter criteria is used to decide who is eligible for home care

Charity blames council funding cuts meaning stricter criteria is used to decide who is eligible for home care

‘For example, an older person who struggles to eat is more likely to become ill and need expensive hospital treatment than if they receive some regular help with their meals: social care helps older people to stay well and keep their independence for longer. Older people deserve so much better.’

Based on its findings from the survey, the charity estimated that 870,000 people aged 65 to 89 are not being given enough support with basic everyday tasks.

This figure also includes 200,000 who need help taking medication, 590,000 who dress themselves with difficulty, and 120,000 who need assistance with going to the toilet.

According to Age UK, the amount spent on social care has been cut by £1.2billion since 2010, over which time the elderly population has increased.

Andy Burnham, Labour’s health spokesman, said: ‘This research paints a depressing picture of a generation of older people facing loneliness, neglect and struggling to cope at home.

‘David Cameron has allowed home care support to be withdrawn from thousands of people. This is a false economy and one of the main causes of the intense pressure on A&E.’

Last year research by charity Leonard Cheshire Disability found that half of councils are granting elderly and disabled only 15-minute carer visits.

It said the slots were so short that vulnerable residents were forced to choose between having a cup of tea or going to the toilet.

Source Mail Online