Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech saw the Care and Support Bill come a step closer to becoming part of our legislative framework.
Based on the draft Care and Support Bill it aims to modernise and simplify adult care law. One of the main points of the Bill is that it will see the cap on self funders’care costs set at £72,000.
However, against a backdrop of continuing adult social care cuts and the growth of our elderly population, our social care system will remain under huge pressure.
The vast majority of elderly people wish to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, living the life they chose in familiar surroundings. For many older people to make this wish a reality we need to give them support. For people with substantial needs this might entail a complex care package but for others with less substantial needs this may simply be help getting ready and dressed in the morning, preparing meals or help around the house.
What concerns us is that if people chose to purchase their own care who are not assessed as having substantial needs, the cost of this care will not count towards the £72,000 cap.
Another element of the Bill is that people will be legally entitled to a personal care budget, which they can receive as a direct payment to spend as they choose. We wholeheartedly support this as it gives people freedom of choice. However, people will only be entitled to this if their needs meet the Local Authority criteria – which could be ‘substantial’ only.
Commenting, Trevor Brocklebank of Home Instead said, “I think the government are missing a key point here. Surely it’s more cost-effective to support an older person in their own home rather than have to rely on the most costly care home option. And this is without factoring in the older person’s wishes and dignity.
“We should be doing everything we can to help people remain in their homes, leading a healthy and independent life.
“It would appear that we are heading for a national eligibility criteria to access social care set at ‘substantial’. This will simply force more people into care homes or allow their health to degenerate at home leading to the need for hospital treatment.
“Like others I would counsel that the threshold be set at ‘moderate’ to enable more people to access the system.
“I have, however, seen figures estimating that setting the threshold at ‘moderate’ would cost an additional £2bn so we are clearly a long way from an equitable social care system unless we see a commitment in the spending review for an increased social care budget.”