One of the hardest decisions we can face is how to pay for long-term care. It causes heartache and financial worry. So a year on from the Dilnot Commissions’ proposals, are we any further along?
Health secretary Andrew Lansley today outlined the government’s plans to deal with social care in a statement to the House of Commons.
Now the government has said that it supports some of the principles of the Dilnot Commission – the independent body tasked by the government with reviewing the funding system for care and support in England – such as a cap on the total amount any one individual would have to pay for their care over their lifetime. But it hasn’t confirmed what this cap should be.
Government delays care decision
We were disappointed to hear that the government won’t commit to how the future system will be funded until the next spending review, despite publishing a long-awaited white paper on care and support today.
Critics have argued that this is a missed opportunity to define the shape of future care, and that the lack of clarity on funding is leading to a crisis in care. In a guest post for Which? Conversation, Andrew Dilnot himself said:
‘We need a new system in which people aren’t fearful and are able to plan and prepare for meeting the cost of care.’
Unacceptable levels of care
Commenter Mark didn’t think the government should foot the bill for social care if people had assets that enabled them to pay the bills themselves. But he was worried about the scale of the sums required:
‘What are savings for if not for a rainy day. The problem is that dealing with social care costs isn’t just a rainy day; it’s a force five hurricane.’
And David shared his concerns over paying for his wife’s Alzheimer’s care:
‘Within six months, her savings will have all but disappeared, and the family will be faced with a shortfall of £700 a week. If, as I expect we cannot do so, our home will have to be sold, and I shall move into rented accommodation. But then half the proceeds will be credited to my wife, and the council will make no contribution for a further two or three years. Catch 22?’
Our own research into care in people’s own homes earlier this year, found shocking examples of poor care, with people’s safety compromised in some cases.
This is not the first government that has failed to adequately grasp the nettle that is the funding of long-term care: the worry is that the suffering is being felt by those who are not always able to complain.
Were you disheartened by the government’s response today? Were you expecting a concrete plan of action – what will you do to deal with the cost of care until the government makes up its mind?