By Debbie le Quesne

A call for change – and can we have it now, please

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Call me old fashioned, but I still love the BBC. They carry an informative and socially enlightening viewpoints page on the health section of their website.

And sometimes there’s pure gold to be found in the comments. I have been unable to extract myself from the Dilnot issues of yesterday and the fact that care minister Norman Lamb appears to be trying to break the inertia of previous months.

Richard Humphries of the King’s Fund think tank writes on the Beeb site: Social care is possibly the only vital public service where people can face a potentially limitless financial liability.

“One in 10 of us will need at least £100,000 worth of care in our retirement. Placing a cap on these costs as Dilnot recommended is a logical extension of the freedom from fear we already enjoy, thanks to the NHS, in relation to healthcare costs.”

Dilnot described our means testing as the worst in the world, leaving people with very modest assets facing the prospect of huge bills.

Worryingly, he says the £35,000 limit proposed by Dilnot “looks too low” and a figure of £50,000 to £70,000 more realistic.

Jane Ashcroft, of not-for-profit care provider Anchor, posts thatDilnot is right – capping individual liability for care costs makes sense. It will help end the appalling unfairness that sees some older people facing catastrophic care costs.”

She adds: “Hunt needs to be bold. Resolving the current mess and finding an affordable solution for the future will not be easy and Dilnot is only the start.

“But our ageing population and the future generations of older people will remember the person that takes a stand and resolves this issue.

“While local authority and health budgets remain separate there is little financial incentive to prioritise services that prevent the need for more expensive NHS treatment.”

Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK: writes:Age UK was delighted to hear Jeremy Hunt talk of creating a social care system fit for an ageing population. There is much to do to meet this aim.

Older people already dealing with the emotional impact of moving into a care home then face the often heartbreaking and unavoidable prospect of selling the family home to pay for their care.

“The recommendations of the Dilnot Commission would, if implemented, help lift that worry from the last years of life by setting a limit on how much an individual would have to pay towards their care.

“A lifetime cap at the level recommended by Dilnot of £35,000 would help people plan – whether that is by putting aside money or buying an insurance product. Age UK wants to see the government announce as soon as possible the funding necessary to make the recommendations a reality – the longer it delays, the higher the initial costs will be.”

The chorus of a need for change – and change soon – grows daily. I’d like to be proved wrong, but my fear is that it will take forever to get real momentum in Parliament.

I agree with Ms Ashcroft that we “must reform the farce that is our current system for funding long-term care.”

However we reform, the reformation needs to be quick and fair. Care home and nursing home owners are having to reduce fees to fill beds at businesses where successive council austerity measures have already cut margins to the bone.

And then there are the countless care businesses which have been closed because they are no longer viable.

What is the future for elder care and for those who are long-term sick or disabled?

Personally, I don’t believe there would be any losers in the Dilnot map for the future and neither does Sarah Pickup, of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, also writes on the BBC site.

She says: “In my view the social care system is up against the wire, budgets are tight and reducing and inevitably something has to give whether it is time, quality, numbers supported or reducing spend on prevention.”

She perceptively points out there are two problems that block a speedy Dilnot uptake.

The first is a cost to implementation “and it is this that has prevented the government from going any further than supporting the proposals in principle.”

The second is that the “Dilnot reforms would bring no new funding into the care system and the biggest challenge the sector faces is resourcing care and support for rising numbers of older and disabled people, as well as delivering on the vision for care and support set out in the recent White Paper.”

Written by debbielq

October 31, 2012 at 11:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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