The Muddle Over Social Care Continues

March 26th, 2017 | Posted by Lynn Strother in Care

I know I have written numerous times on the subject, but is anyone in government really listening?! If they are – do they really understand what we are saying? Would they like their families to be condemned to the type of services currently on offer for older people, people with disabilities or dementia? Although the services for young people with care needs are in somewhat better shape due to greater funds (which is very appropriate) they’re still not brilliant.

What a muddle the politicians are causing in relation to social care and just look at the concern and distress felt by those their muddle impacts on.

There was a glimmer of hope from the Chancellor in the budget with the pledge of £2billion over 3 years. However, when you take into consideration of years and years of 20%, 30% and even 40% cuts to the social care budget (in fact £4.6billion cuts since 2009) this £2billion spread across the country will not fill the huge gap in services.

There are daily reports of overcrowded A & E centres, with patients seen in corridors because there are no beds – mainly because patients can’t be discharged due to a lack of community or care services. Yet only half the money will be available immediately, so no one will see any difference any time soon.

There are also concerns that more than £100 million of the social care funds could end up in the hands of investors and shareholders of major companies (New Economics Foundation), as one fifth of all publicly funded care homes are provided by only five companies.  Care homes are closing down at an alarming rate due to lack of money and lack of staff. Many staff are leaving through burnout and there are real difficulties in recruitment, which naturally have got worse with Brexit – but we won’t go there…

You probably have had your council tax bill and will see that councils have been given powers to increase the tax to put towards social care.  This is fine in the richer boroughs, but what about the poorer areas, especially in the north where house prices are much lower than London?  A 4% increase on low value houses will not bring in much in the way of funding, yet those people need social care as much as (or perhaps even more than) those who live in richer boroughs.

Yet Mr. Hammond has announced yet another review of long term funding of the system – why?  We have had endless reviews – Andrew Dilnot drew up plans to place a £72,000 cap on self funders (who subsidize other peoples care) which were due to be implemented last year, but these were dismissed by David Cameron.

Some are looking at the system in Japan (Japanese model) where everyone over forty has to pay into an elderly care insurance system dependent on their income and where they live. There is a similar system in Germany. It seems inevitable that everyone will face paying into a compulsory system for their care in older age.  But instead of these endless reviews – can we have some action? Plus, how much do all these reviews cost? Could the money not be put to better use?

Once again it is supposed that the baby boomer generation has high savings and generous pensions. Now certainly some people do, but we mustn’t forget that they also pay tax and if they go into residential care they subsidize the placement of other residents. Self-funders rarely cost local councils for their care – so can we please stop this constant media battering?!

The way the media portrays the situation is that we have a growing older population from which every person over sixty will be calling on their local council for care. We all know this is not true – it is a relatively small proportion of the older population which will require local council care.

There was talk from the government that no-body would have to sell their home to pay for care, yet this proposal has vanished into the fog (well what did you expect?!) and people are now paying for their care by selling their homes. So it is time the media stopped their vilification of older people and got their facts right!

So what is care like in your borough? Good? Disappearing? What do you see as the best way forward? Insurance? (Although when it was suggested that people could buy insurance for later care, the insurers couldn’t run away fast enough!) As always – let us know your thoughts!

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