Just as I was writing my first blog on the desperate plight of elderly social care at the very beginning of 2012 (see “Cowardly Inaction” dated 15 January 2012 or click on “Slippery Slope” in the TAG CLOUD) a letter appears in the Daily Telegraph – 3rd January 2012, saying much the same thing but in a rather more temperate way. It was signed by more than 50 leaders in the field of elderly care and calls for the Government and opposition party politicians to implement the recommendations of the Andrew Dilnot report. I would agree with them, but for the fact that it is not bold enough to radically change things and the politicians have already effectively shelved it as too expensive in the current economic climate.
The letters’ signatories are themselves part of the problem. They too are looking over their shoulders and trying to recreate state funded solutions and protect elderly people’s accumulated wealth – mainly in the form of their house. I believe the increase in longevity of the elderly generation, improved medical care and the paucity of most pensions combine to require a major injection of funds into the field of social care. The only place this can possibly come from is the elderly themselves – which means they must cash in the value of their homes to pay for their own care in later life. This is the very message that our cowardly politicians baulk from giving honestly to their electorate.
The sooner we tell people this, the earlier the market will respond to provide long-term care insurance products. Only then will providers have sufficient income to provide a higher standard of residential and domiciliary care. Dilnot saw this but he didn’t go far enough because he tried to find a compromise for the politicians.
It took a politician of the stature of Lloyd George to introduce the biggest social reform in the welfare of the elderly – the state-funded retirement pension, which was the first level of universal support for older people. Another great leader – Aneurin Bevan, took the next radical step in championing the foundation of the NHS. It is difficult now to row back from those solutions, but we have to accept there needs to be an equally dramatic change if we are to offer older people a secure future in later life.
It is a very bold leader that will swim against the tide of public opinion and political expedient. The good news is that there is nothing to be said for retaining the status quo.
The time is right for change.