Social care for older people is in a mess. An almost permanent hotchpotch of indecision and political prevarication. The truth is nobody much cares about older voters until elections come around.
The NHS does as little social care as it can, gone are the days of care in the community, it is all about hospital now. That leaves a raft of shrinking public funds reluctantly dished out to an ever-growing soup kitchen queue of the most needy, like a workhouse bowl of gruel. Social policy on care is almost moving back to the Victorian era.
The left-overs are spared for the residential care sector, which has for long been starved of resources by Social Services (alias the Government). But it is also bled dry by the loan shark funders who floated many private sector care homes in the bubble expansion at the end of the last century. What a third world plight our frail older people live in?
The majority are left to fend for themselves, sometimes out of choice, often out of neglect. Mostly out of sight and out of mind. The collective cry is “We didn’t know they would live this long”. That comes from successive Governments, with all their long-term forecasts and endless un-acted upon reports. Also from the pensions industry and their actuarial ‘experts’, who were fat and happy and didn’t want to see beyond today. Actuaries who don’t want to see beyond today are surely a contradiction in terms.
There can be no excuses, no breast beating cries of anguish. The calamity of social care has been coming for quite some time. After years of cash starved, poor quality care, the older generation is increasingly isolated and forgotten in their own homes. Only closed eyes and uncaring minds chose not to see it. Now, we have reached the tipping point and uncomfortable solutions will be the only institutional answer. “They” — the belated policy makers will claim there is no alternative.
Here are some of the first toes in the slimy pool :-
- “Hospitals turn away ambulances” The Times 7/4/2017 — double the number in previous years — serious call outs have increased by 37% in the last 5 years — Target response times have not been met since 2015.
- “265,000 patients searching for new GP” Pulse magazine —- 150% up on two years earlier —- 57 GP practices closed in 2016, 34 others merged.
- “Cut pensioner perks to fund social care” Daily Mail 7/4/2017 — triple locked pensions and winter fuel allowance should be cut says Sir Andrew Dillnot.
- “Assisted dying debate” The Times letters April 2017 — after extensive debate in the House of Lords last year the arguments continue. But it is still a “live” issue, or should that be a “dead” issue.
There are many other references all reinforcing the idea that older people are a problem. Like the MPs in last week’s blog about the gossip in the corridors of power, this is all opening up the prospect of further cuts to Older People’s services and reductions financial support.
It won’t be long before we are all in the