Proposals 'fly in the face' of older people's wishes to live at home

Associaion of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date
: Saturday October 3, 2009
Embargo: Immediate

In the wake of todays social care announcement by the Conservative Party, social services leaders have warned that an exclusive emphasis on meeting the costs of residential care for older people risks creating a 'perverse incentive which might amount to discouraging them from staying and continuing to live in their own homes.

This, ADASS says 'flies in the face of clear evidence that older people would always prefer to stay in their own homes, with their families, in their communities, for as long as possible. These proposals might lead to their being encouraged to enter residential care prematurely.

Association President Jenny Owen said, "we are delighted that both the Conservative and Labour Parties are now committed to raising these issues within their manifestos in the forthcoming election. We very much welcome the high profile this will give to reducing the unfair burdens of care which have arisen in a system which we have described as 'unfit for purpose.

"But political leaders from all our parties need to recognise that it will continue to be so unless the costs of caring for people in own homes, and in residential homes as well as in hospital, are all seen as a single, indivisible whole.

"Concentrating only on residential care costs on the one hand, or on the costs of caring for people in their own homes, as the Prime Minister did last week, risks seriously destabilising an already fragile health and social care system for older people. The authors of the Green Paper on adult social care funding, which all stakeholders in adult care have been studying carefully since before this summer, were especially aware of this danger," she warned.

In a speech to the Conservative Party Conference to be given this Monday (October 5, 2009), Ms Owen argues that ruling out a tax-based system covering the costs of residential and home care, as the Green Paper has done, was premature. She said: "The current government rules it out because it places a burden on working age people. ADASS would not be so peremptory: exactly the same argument, for example, could be applied to the funding of the NHS.

"We welcome the Prime Ministers move towards providing care free of charge to certain categories of need - although a lot more work needs to be done on the resource implications."

She goes on to suggest that the phrase National Care Service, used by the Department of Health, should be replaced, arguing that not even the NHS provides a consistent national service across the whole country. Instead, the ADASS prefers to use the phrase National Care Entitlement as better representing the reality of the care services offer.

In order to reconcile some of the competing, emerging ideas Ms Owen called for a new Compact with the NHS setting out what the two agencies - health and social care - can expect from each other in their partnership working arrangements.

"This," she says, "would enable us to pull together and use resources across the whole system - health service, benefits and local government - and maximise our ability to intervene early and effectively; prevent positively and in some cases permanently, and help as many people as want to, to live fulfilled and fulfilling lives with friends, family and community

"Resources put into social care, she emphasises, means savings in the costs of far more expensive hospital and other agencies services; contributing to a vibrant local industry and local employment; linking vulnerable people to the centre of community life, and mitigating the effects of neglect, vulnerability or disability.

"In short, fewer older people in hospital; more of them cared for in their own homes; fewer early readmissions to costly hospital wards and more people protected from potential abuse."

ENDS

For further information contact:
Jenny Owen, ADASS President, 07831 597552
Drew Clode, ADASSS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755