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FREE PERSONAL CARE ON TRACK FOR 1 JULY

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Plans for the implementation of free personal and nursing care on July 1 are on track, it was announced today. ...
Plans for the implementation of free personal and nursing care on July 1 are on track, it was announced today.

Deputy health minister Frank McAveety made the announcement during a visit to the Wellgate Day Centre in Dundee where he had the opportunity to meet people with dementia who will benefit from the introduction of free personal care.

The minister also met front line staff who have been involved in introducing the policy. He took the opportunity to thank staff for their efforts. He said:

'This is the largest single investment in older people's services and I would like to thank the staff for the investment in time and effort they have put in to ensure this policy becomes a reality for our older people across Scotland.

'They have reviewed the charges of over 70,000 people, taken hundreds of enquiries and spoken to older people about their entitlements. They are the ones who are putting in place secure foundations for care services for our older people and I am grateful for their hard work and effort.

'Implementation is on track across local authorities and will be effective and sustainable. Although we cannot rule out that every case will be ready by 1 July all indications are that the assessment process is going well. Significant numbers of people are coming forward to discuss their needs and entitlements.

'This has been aided by the public information campaign which was started in April. Advertising appeared in local and national newspapers and leaflets were available through GP surgeries, social work offices, care homes and other outlets. Relevant voluntary organisations have also been playing their part in providing information and advice.

'There has been widespread support for free personal care - the people wanted it, the Scottish Parliament voted for it and the Executive has delivered it.

'We have delivered free personal care for older people and ensured that nursing care is finally free for all who need it. From frail, older people to those suffering from dementia or requiring long term care because of a stroke. This valuable care will be provided free in homes as well as at home. It will be based on an individual's care needs and marks a huge step forward in fairer charging for care services.

'Everyone recognises that society is getting older. More of us are surviving further into old age. The structures of the past will not meet the needs of the future and this move towards increased equity of provision of care is recognition of that fact.

'Supporting more older people to be cared for in their own homes, expanding community care services, abolishing charges for personal care at home, and delivering the level of funding recommended by the Care Development Group to deliver free personal and nursing care in care homes will happen. It will happen because it is a promise we made to Scotland's pensioners, and because we believe it is the right thing to do.'

Jim Jackson, chief executive, Alzheimer Scotland - Action on Dementiawelcomed the deputy health minister's statement.

'Free personal care is the right policy for people with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia because they will no longer have to pay for the personal care they require as a consequence of their illness. With the addition of increased funding for home support services this is a good example of the Scottish Executive doing more for people with dementia than their counterparts south of the border. '

There will be a£250m package over two years which will include:

The removal of all charges for personal care in the community

For those in a care home who are currently self-funding, a flat rate payment of£145 a week for personal care and for those needing nursing care an additional a week£65 a week. These sums reflect the current average costs for those in similar circumstances who costs are currently paid for from the public purse.

Additional funding for local authorities to continue to offer more care in people's homes by improving the standard and availability of the wide range of services that can maintain older people' independence and enable them to stay home longer.

Personal care can include:

Personal hygiene such as bathing, showering, hair washing and oral hygiene;

Continence management such as help with the toilet and skin care;

Food and diet including assistance with eating and special diets;

Help with immobility;

Counselling and support services;

Simple treatments such as assistance with medication, application of creams and dressings; and

Personal assistance such as help with dressing and assistance to get up and go to bed

The NHS freephone helpline 0800 224488 is available to give further information about free personal and nursing care.

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