Elderly care scandal – can the Government create lasting reform?

Year Published: 2012

An article published in The Daily Telegraph on 3 January claims that hundreds of thousands of elderly people are being robbed of their dignity by failing care services and are being left at risk of ‘terrible abuse and neglect’.

It is estimated that thousands of elderly people across the UK are being forced to use their savings and sell their homes to pay for the cost of their care, which is on the rise each year. It is also apparent that due to the inadequacies of the current care system many people are forced to become full time carers, having to quit work or reduce their working hours in order to care for elderly relatives.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph a number of leading experts in elderly care have urged the Government and other party leaders to “seize this opportunity for urgent fundamental and lasting reform: delivering a social care system which can provide the well funded and high quality care and support we would all expect for ourselves and our families”. The signatories to the letter include CEO’s and Chairs of many organisations including Action on Elder Abuse, the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, BMA Council, British Association of Social Workers, BUPA and Carer’s UK.

The signatories to the letter give their backing to the care reform plans put forward in July 2011 by Andrew Dilnot, which proposed that no one would pay more than £35,000 for care during their lifetime. The proposals suggested that any care bills above this cap would be met by the state at an estimated cost to the Treasury of £1.7 billion per year.

The proposals will also encourage the financial services sector to offer products to enable people to save for care in old age, in an attempt to increase future contributions from individuals as well as the state, in order to plug more of the gap in underfunding.

As yet, it will be another four months for the next white paper to be produced on the reforms, so in the meantime, nothing has come of the proposals.

The Government are however, according to Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat Care Services Minister “taking leadership on this issue”. “The Coalition agrees that the reform of social care – and the dignity and independence of older and disabled people – are an urgent priority,” he said.

Meanwhile, rising care costs are still a very real issue for hundreds of thousands of elderly people and their families, while an estimated 800,000 elderly people are currently in need and being left without basic care.

If these issues are affecting you or a member of your family then there may be a number of ways in which we could help you, including liaising with local authorities on your behalf. For more information please contact Justine Clowes on 01625 442148 in our Older and Vulnerable Client team.

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