By Debbie le Quesne

Posts Tagged ‘elderly

King’s Fund sound alarm over shortfall in care funding

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Budget cuts of 26 percent will threaten the sustainability of social care the Association of Directors of Adult Social Service warned.

As I have previously blogged the organisation said the results of the annual budget survey show that while spending on adult services has reduced by 12 per cent since 2010, the amount of people needing support has increased by 14 per cent.

Put simply, the figures don’t stack up and councils have had to make savings equivalent to £3.53bn. David Pearson, president of ADASS, was quoted in The Guardian as saying: “As resources reduce and need increases, directors are increasingly concerned about the impact on countless vulnerable people who will fail to receive, or not be able to afford, the social care services they need and deserve.”

The warning has drawn comments from Richard Humphries, assistant director of policy at the King’s Fund: Again quoted in the Guardian online, he says: “This survey once again highlights the enormous pressure on social care budgets.

“Despite the best efforts of local authorities, this will result in further cuts to services and fewer people receiving support.

“Worryingly, half the money being transferred from the NHS budget to support better joint working between health and social care is now being spent on protecting social care services from budget cuts, rather than driving integrated care and other service changes needed to better meet the needs of patients and service-users.”

I would dearly like to bring some positive, creative solution to this ongoing debate, but frankly like so many in the care sector, my day of making savings through working smarter is nearly through. Everyone I know has cut, restructured, re-invented and re-thought the way they work to deliver more efficient care. There has to come an end – it’s an inevitable economic principle – when the wheels will finally drop off social care machine.

The King’s Fund embraces some of the finest minds in the country and the government would do well to heed the alarms.

The only real lifeline we have is the new Care Act and the Better Care Fund that focus resources to help manage their own care and hopefully save billions. Critically, however, we need monies to roll out the new working methodology – cash, it appears that is already spent on “protecting social care services from budget cuts.”

Ageing Britain: Why getting oldere I not a picnic

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Elderly people gather in an idyllic woodland and settle down for a bite to eat, but the caption beneath this picture in The Guardian online tells us “Life is no picnic for many older people.”

And we are reminded too in an article outlining the fears of our ageing population that David Cameron once said: “We’re an old country – with our best years ahead of us.” Hmmm . . . well, that’s how he sees it.

Research, however, is not so optimistic with growing concern about pensions, rising costs, health and social care.

The survey for The Guardian shows that just 29 per cent felt the standard of living of older people in the UK was currently at a good level, compared with 46 per cent who disagreed.

The article adds: “And the long-term outlook is even gloomier: just over 11 per cent expect older people’s standard of living to improve over the next 20 years, against 79 per cent who disagree. Over 70 per cent do not believe older people’s overall quality of life will rise in the next two decades, compared with under 16 per cent who do.”

More than 1,600 took part in this study.

What emerged was a perception of a rich-poor divide – those who are financially secure as they retire and those who are struggling in their old age.

“One respondent is quoted: “Pensions are worth nothing, care is being cut back, people are living longer, jobs are going digital. All this, to me, adds up to a hideous time ahead, potentially, for older people.”

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) do not believe public services are working in a co-ordinated way to meet the challenges ahead.

Clearly, there are huge challenges ahead and the spin doctors’ work is not fining a resonance with the elderly. Good!

But what I find most sad is the fact that elderly people have a growing unease about their future.

In the report, Claire Turner, head of ageing society at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says: “There are some huge challenges ahead . . .”

Indeed there are and successive governments’ delay at not properly addressing the issues of an ageing Britain has not helped. As they say in the Black Country, the pigeons are now coming home to roost.

We need more joined-up thinking on the delivery of care, smart systems to make social care sustainable and most of all, some realistic funding.

The uncertainties of future as we desperately try to prepare for the unknown are not only found in those who will need care intervention, but those who delivery too.

I read that housing group Anchor has been spearheading a campaign called Grey Pride, calling on the government to appoint a dedicated minister for older people who could pull together policy on everything from pensions and social care to transport and discrimination.

In the survey nearly 60 per cent said that government should take the lead – something that in my opinion has been lacking and I don’t suppose this latest research will change a single jot.

Scope takes a swipe at the Budget

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Disability charity Scope has issued a stinging attack on this week’s Budget, saying there is “no place for disabled people” in the “aspiration nation.”

Wow – no punched pulled here.

Ina website statement and reports in the national media, Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the charity says: “Disabled people want to live independently. But the support they need to get up, get dressed and get out and about is being squeezed due to chronic under-funding of social care.

“Neither the £72,000 cap on costs nor £118,000 means test will resolve the care crisis for disabled people, who make up a third of the people who use social care.

In the Budget speech Chancellor George Osborne reiterated plans to speed up the introduction on the cap of social care.

He also said that ministers plan to extend the means test for residential care costs from April 2016.

The cap on care costs, originally planned to be set at £75,000 and introduced in 2017, will now also be introduced in 2016 at a level of £72,000.

Mr Hawkes adds: “Disabled people want to be able to pay for essentials without turning to credit. But in 2013 they are struggling to make ends meet.

“Life costs more if you’re disabled and this is being compounded as living costs spiral and incomes flat-line. What’s the Government’s response? A squeeze on financial support, which means many disabled people, face not one, but two, three or four different cuts to vital support.  

“In this context it’s a frightening prospect that welfare could be capped in the June spending review – having already been slashed by billions.  Some people need benefits, get over it. It doesn’t make them a scrounger, it doesn’t make them work-shy and it doesn’t make them a lay-about.

“Surely an aspiration nation should be a place where disabled people can pay the bills and live independently?”

The Budget document says that the reforms should help an extra 100,000 people who would not receive any support under the current system.

Speaking in the Independent newspaper, Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, added: “Whilst we welcome the earlier implementation of the care costs cap to April 2016, this will do nothing to help the 800,000 older people who need help with everyday tasks but receive no formal support.

“Since this Government came to power, in real terms £700 million has been cut from social care spending, mostly as a consequence of the slashing of local authorities budgets at a time when need is rising due to our ageing population.

“The Government must urgently address the spiralling crisis in social care by ensuring that every older person gets the help that they need when they need it.”

Will they get it? Will the disabled be helped? I have no confidence that funding will be made available to local authorities. We have a hard-line government with only one agenda: To cut.

Morally, those cuts trouble me. The care sector sees first-hand the daily toll those financial restraints are taking and yes, they are depriving our most vulnerable of quality of life.

I can’t recall too clearly, but wasn’t there something in the coalition manifesto about protecting the elderly and vulnerable?  

Written by debbielq

March 21, 2013 at 7:59 am

Big changes needed to respond to ageing crisis

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The government is ‘woefully’ underprepared for the ageing population it needs to serve, according to a House of Lords Committee published today (Wednesday).

I have wanted to comment on this report all day and cannot let the hours pass any longer without adding my views.

The Committee says that our rapidly ageing population will have a huge impact on our society and public services and unless government and all political parties address this, the gift of longer life could lead to a series of crises. Oh yes!

And the report identifies how England will see a 50 per cent rise in the number of those aged 65 plus and a 100 per cent increase in those aged 85plus between 2010 and 2030. Whilst dementia is not a natural part of getting older, the report highlights that a significant challenge will arise from the projected growth in numbers of people with the condition.

It says big changes are needed in employment practices, pensions, health and social care.

But where are the changes and are they being driven by government?

The Alzheimer’s Society responded with this scary quote from Director of External Affairs Andrew Chidgey: “The UK is facing a colossal dementia challenge with 800,000 people living with the condition today and the number expected to rise to a million by 2021.

“Yet many people are struggling to pay high prices for care that often doesn’t meet their needs. People are also going into hospital unnecessarily costing the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds. This situation is only going to get worse unless action is taken.

“In order to meet this challenge, we need investment in community services now to ensure people with dementia are enabled to live a fulfilled life and supported to live at home for as long as possible.’

And can someone tell me please, why this story is not getting much airplay? Sadly, if we ignore it, the problem will not go away.

Written by debbielq

March 14, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Helping Hands pioneer training model on dementia

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I keep asking myself why dementia still has a stigma. Frankly, I cannot rationalise an answer that stands intellectual scrutiny, but we desperately need to bring education and enlightenment to the public about this debilitating condition.

It’s part of our job at West Midlands Care Association to keep abreast of industry developments in all aspects of professional caring. So I was interested to learn that Alcester-based Helping Hands had been delivering its unique dementia training model to 31 delegates last Saturday.

Helping Hands has more than 23 years of experience of supporting clients with dementia. The company has a proven track record in this field of care and work closely with Dementia UK in developing raining and resources.

Staff understand the daily challenges and different stages of living with and caring for someone with this disease, as well as promoting the belief that appropriate care can be provided specifically at home.

It stands to reason we need to listen to these people – and that’s exactly what the delegates did at the weekend. Mainly they were family members of those living with various forms of dementia.

Care Industry News reported that comments about the training included: “We are grateful for the opportunity to find out more about what is happening and what will happen to my father.”

“It’s given me a much wider perspective both in terms of personal experiences and how I professionally help families and clients suffering with dementia.”

During the day the group learned about the journey that a loved one is likely to experience living with the various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and Lewy bodies and frontal lobe dementia.


What is also clear from the day is the overwhelming acknowledgement that families are crying out for more help and more information.

In line with organisations such as Dementia UK, Age UK and UKHCA, Helping Hands is committed to playing a leading role in dementia awareness and already calls are being made for the company to roll out its training model nationally.

Yes please.

And I want to know how this care company, with its live-in carers, is helping sufferers stay at home much longer. The model is increasing in popularity and we need to know more, much more about it and they way it can help empower both memory-loss victims and their families.

Perhaps with more publicly driven education we can rid this condition of the stigma so readily associated with it. I’m excited that this may be one way of developing a nationally approved and recognised training model, not just for carers but loved-one too.

One way of finding a way out of the ageing maze

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How do we solve the problem of an ageing population drawing more and more resources into its growing needs?

Certainly it appears the government doesn’t seem to know, no matter how much advice economists and social trend plotters decant into Number 10.

So perhaps The Guardian newspaper has come up with the solution by hosting a debate, well, not so much of a disputation – more of a platform for considered opinion.

Sponsored by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, British Red Cross and Barchester Healthcare, it aims to bring together key figures from the public, private and voluntary sectors, academia and central government, to explore how we should respond to the challenges of our changing demography.

I don’t want to miss this. It stands to be the only real opportunity to see exactly what Ministers plan to do.

The Guardian says: “This dedicated online Ageing Population hub will provide a space to address and debate these issues. It will showcase examples of best practice, feature contributions from a wide range of voices and enable older people and those working with them to exchange ideas.

“It will explore how we can celebrate the contributions and experiences of older people, for example in the workplace.

“We will be taking a broad view of the topic, looking at the impact on other generations as well as asking whether there are lessons we can learn from other countries.”

Other countries . . . does anyone remember my blog on Germany?

By 2050, almost a quarter of people in the UK will be aged 65 or over. And this demographic shift will have a huge impact on almost every aspect of public life.

It will be interesting to see in this series of articles just how prepared are we to cope with the challenges it brings?

What kind of policies and public services are needed? And how can we become a society that embraces an ageing population, rather than regards it as a burden?

There are huge questions on the table. Four online discussions will follow on to zone in on some of the subjects. The Guardian will also be conducting a survey of our public service professional network members to gauge their views on the policy challenges of how we respond to an ageing population.

Will this be a hot potato? You can bet it will.

Written by debbielq

March 12, 2013 at 8:00 am