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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Who cares?

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.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that the "complex new system" outlined in the Conservative party’s manifesto, which would force more elderly people to pay for their own care, “makes no attempt to deal with the fundamental challenge of social care funding”. This warning is backed up by the economist Sir Andrew Dilnot who reviewed social care for the coalition government in 2011.

Accusations that the Tories were imposing a 'dementia' tax and a 'death' tax prompted a swift clarification that there would be a limit on the costs carers would be expected to pay but that would have to wait for a green paper consultation. The Prime Minister said “I want to make a further point clear. This manifesto says that we will come forward with a consultation paper, a government green paper. And that consultation will include an absolute limit on the amount people have to pay for their care costs.”

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.

Postscript [27.05.2017]

Number of pensioners needing care set to rise by one quarter: Lancet


  1. The fact is that any intercurrent illness in the older age group may well precipitate problems which are then labelled as needing 'social care'.
    If the Government would just stop and think. Even in the young age group an illness can leave a person not feeling well enough to undertake the usual activities of daily living, but in the younger age group we can ride this more easily. When ill, and unable to get to the bathroom for necessary and essential activities, it is because the person has an illness.
    Old age,of itself,is not an lillness.
    One cannot separate what is required for personal care in normal activities of human living from the initiating illness.
    The unpleasant truth is that Government perceives the elderly population as a drain and a burden on the improvement of lifestyle for the general working population. A second unpleasant 'truth' is that this new proposed financial plan will not apply only to 'brain failure', commonly called dementia,but to any problems occurring in association with any illness may be reassigned to 'social care', with the stroke of a pen !
    The plan to acquire the savings and the property of the retired population to pay for their debilitating illness is simple theft on the part of the Government.
    Are we becoming a dictarotial Communist State in disguise?

  2. My Mother got dementia young, she was just 60.

    The State has a completely stupid "all or nothing" approach that makes no sense to anyone with even a modicum of common sense.

    My mother needed various injections for her diabetes which was clearly medical and so I wanted the NHS to continue to pay for the medical expenses whilst I paid for her accommodation etc ...... but, NO, either the NHS pays for everything including the accommodation or it pays for nothing so it opted to pay for nothing.

    I fought this bizarre situation for 4 years and when they finally relented I burst into tears on the train when I heard the news so goodness knows what others around me on the train thought!

    The care was costing me £32,000 per year and I had virtually used all her assets as well as supplementing the care cost myself. The really stupid thing is I never wanted the NHS to pay for her accommodation - If only the government rules imposed on the NHS allowed them to use common sense!

  3. @Anonymous. Some may find your disturbing account unbelievable.
    But may I emphasise again that as part of one's illness in older age or younger even, it will be undoubtedly possible to identify an alleged 'social element' . This will be so because most illnesses in the elderly will precipitate as part of this illness a degree of difficulty in coping or a decline in physical ability, which will cleverly be fitted into the 'social care' category.
    The Social workers take the blame for applying the rules dreamed up by the charlatans in Government departments.