This blog follows on from “Social Care White Paper 1”. (Click on Dilnot Commission in the TAG CLOUD to see earlier posts).
It continues the discussion on the social care white paper and the future funding long-term care of older people.
Whilst the continued prevarication is disappointing, there are some promising signs in the white paper that the Government is gradually beginning to chart a way forward. But — you have to read between the lines — here is my attempt at understanding what the Secretary of State is hinting at :-
- Andrew Lansley agrees with the principles of the Dilnot report.
- This means it is quite a long way from political acceptability and we will not act on its recommendations until we can be convinced they are election-winning proposals, —- i.e. after the next general election.
- A cap on care costs is accepted but the level set at £35,000 or even £50,000 may be too low.
- The £100,000 being considered by the Department of Health is just a softener for a cap of around £60,000. This covers the cost if about two years’ stay in residential care (including £10,000 annual accommodation costs). It will provide for the remaining lifespan of most residents — except those with mild dementia or long-term disability.
- The Government is setting up standard eligibility criteria for access to residential care.
- This is thinly disguised code for limiting residential care to critical and substantial care. In practice this has already happened, but it needs to be legitimized before an insurance scheme can be introduced.
- The Government is setting up a loan scheme to allow people to keep their homes if they move into residential care.
- This is a sop to the chorus of media outcry about people having to sell their homes to pay for care and it may avoid the “death tax” lable. In practice why do people need to keep a home if they move permanently into residential care.
- The good news is that it is also opening the door which leads older people to use equity release to pay for care, which is the only realistic long-term solution.
- The Government are considering a voluntary scheme of insurance for long-term care.
- This is recognition that the commercial insurance industry are not likely to take this issue up quickly. Equally the Government, by floating the idea of an opt-out or opt-in scheme, are testing the water, in terms of acceptability. Personally, I doubt if people will opt in unless the premium is very low (less than £10,000). However, this has to be the right way forward and it ultimately prepares the way for a universal social care insurance scheme which ensures that everybody – young and old – insure for their frail future.
So overall, whilst the continuing prevarication is disappointing, it is probably a necessary adjustment period. The more important thing is that at least the signs are pointing in the right direction.