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By Debbie le Quesne

The White Paper buzz goes on and on and on . . .

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I feel obligated to comment on the this week’s White Paper once again though in all honesty I’m getting a little tired of it all now.

The issues raised about long-term care for the growing numbers of older people have been around for some 30 years.

And the real questions have never changed – who will pay for it, provide it and how good will it be?

It appears we have an outline answer on the first  question – and that’s those who need the care – but matters of who provides and on what terms remains uncertain.

I believe all local authorities want excellent care delivered in their boroughs but they really are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Market forces – and not least Government policies on funding measures – are driving prices down. Social workers, the front line people in deciding who gets what and for how much money, are facing more and more difficult choices as the quality of care is fiscally threatened.

Efficiency is important and so is effectiveness. We all know that defining good care is not always in the findings of CQC reports. Good care involves compassion, enthusiasm, ‘going the extra mile’ and laughter and love.

Money can’t buy these things, but the lack of it can certainly drive them out. Cash-centric changes can alter the character of goods, say economists. If this is true and our caring is the ‘goods’ in question we need to be vigilant.

Carers unable to provide the care they want to give are unfulfilled, frustrated and ultimately demoralised.

I would not suggest for one moment their professional ethos would be compromised, but I’m sure that magical, indefinable quality that makes them special, certainly is. Social progress always has a cost.

Have we arrived where efficiency is more important than effectiveness?

Politicians have been reluctant to spell out the painful realities of what an ageing population means for care services.

The White Paper from Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, does little to break the mold.

It makes a number of worthwhile suggestions, such as setting national standards of elderly care for the first time, offering free end-of-life care and giving legal rights to carers. But on the central issue of money, it remains vague.

What remains clear, is that there needs to a public shift in attitudes to their own care and turning the tide needs, not least, political agreement – something that a present we don’t have.

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Written by debbielq

July 13, 2012 at 8:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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