|From the BBC video 'Do you remember that, mum?'|
A recent BBC report 'Do you remember that, mum?' explained how the condition of dementia sufferer Andriani, who was last seen in 2014, had deteriorated rapidly while the costs to care for her rise.
The report explains why the son fears for his mother's future care. He explained that he would like to be able to say that the system is broken so potentially it could be fixed but having seen it from the inside he said "I don't think we have a system at all". Sadly that is the experience of most people who have had the misfortune to be involved. They are desperate to see a fully funded, workable system.
Care should not be a lottery but it is. If you have cancer much if not all of your treatment will be paid for. If you have dementia, hard luck. You are often on your own. The effects can be devastating but who cares?
On the face of it, raising the assets limit to £100,000 from £23,250 in England may appear "reasonable" but it is not. Read why here and here. The fate of someone who has lovingly cared for his/her parent at home when the parent dies and the family home has to be sold to settle the care account is an added burden. "As soon as my mum dies, will the council come for its money? Will I be homeless?" asked one carer.
Under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government we were told that "people will see health and social care fully joined-up by 2018...Co-ordination would see better care and support, fewer people falling through the cracks and a drop in patients needlessly stuck in hospitals." Some hope!
Getting bed-blocking patients out of hospitals into domiciliary care was seen as a priority but with the UK home care industry on the brink of collapse there is a grave danger that any action will be too little too late. As one care provider said in a BBC interview, he doesn't have to advertise for customers but he has to advertise for staff. There is a recruitment crisis due to competition from hospitals and supermarkets.
Carers are severely undervalued. They should be properly rewarded but funding has been squeezed to such an extent that many existing carers are leaving for less demanding work. This is an extra burden for providers who have to train their staff at considerable expense only to find that they leave for a hospital job on regular hours. The Labour party has made much of zero-hours contracts, now the subject of Government review, but it is the flexibility of not having fixed hours that enables carers to meet the needs of those they care for.
The situation gets worse by the day. It could be you next, it could be me but who cares? That is the question. The right answer is needed urgently before the system collapses completely.