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Charity wants 'fair and affordable' care

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The Bill introducing free personal care at home for older people with critical needs must be the start of radical reform of the care system and backed up by proper funding, according to Counsel and Care.

Counsel and Care, a national charity working with older people, their families and carers, is holding its annual conference, entitled: Delivery quality care: fair to everyone, affordable to all

Chief executive Stephen Burke will tell delegates that older people and their carers live in what could be described as “good, bad and uncertain times”.

“The good times stem from the transformation of care across the country, giving people more choice and control over the support they need, and helping older people to stay in their own home longer.

“The bad are the budget cuts which are already tightening eligibility criteria further and increasing charges for care; but worse is to come and older people seem to be in the firing line.”

Mr Burke says the uncertainty comes from the Personal Care at Home Bill, the forthcoming White Paper and the general election, leaving many unclear about the future for care.

“There are worries that an ambitious agenda for reforming care could be replaced by a financial imperative to keep older people out of hospital and residential care at all costs.

“Clearly better care at home is what most older people want and if it’s ‘free’, then even better. But we need to ensure that proper support is available in local communities so that staying at home doesn’t mean loneliness, isolation and neglect.

“A new care system must reflect the reality of older people’s and carers’ lives. They don’t just depend on social care but also on better housing, transport, safety and community facilities as well as adequate income.
“That can only be achieved by housing and health and other partners working closely together with local government.

Mr Burke said the forthcoming care White Paper, which maps out plans for a national care service, had to be based on fundamental principles:

  • Universality - creating a system that everyone uses and providing support such as information, advice and advocacy to all
  • Portability - a national assessment process which is consistent wherever you live and which doesn’t change if you move
  • Personalisation - giving older people and their carers real choice and control, a real voice and a chance to contribute themselves
  • Quality and equality - better care for all wherever they live, delivered by a better paid and trained workforce
  • Prevention - investing in home adaptations, telecare and other early interventions that are increasingly recognised as paying dividends
  • Support for family carers and other social networks in local communities
  • Integration - shared local priorities reflected in pooled budgets and joint commissioning, building on the Total Place pilots
  • Value for money - getting care and support at the right time and in the right place.
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