The government plans to improve care of the elderly


Figures in today’s White Paper from the government show that 19% of men and 34% of women will need residential care at some point. While one in four will spend little on care, one in 10 will spend over £100,000. So, care — how it’s provided and who pays for it — is likely to be a bigger issue for women than for men. In today’s White Paper there are some good ideas about how care for older people in England can be improved but no firm decisions on how we’ll have to pay for it.

Better information
There will be a new website from April 2013 which will be a one-stop-shop for information about care for older people. The government will also work with a range of organisations to develop comparison websites that make it easy for people to give feedback and compare the quality of care providers.

Carer’s assessment
From April 2013 people who care for an adult will be entitled a carer’s assessment of support. Currently, local authorities are not obliged to provide support to a carer even if they need it (and even if the local authority is aware they need it).

Closing a gap in care
Currently if someone who is receiving care moves from one local authority area to a different one, they can find themselves without care until they’re assessed by the new local authority. The government wants local authorities to have an obligation to carry on providing care until it can do its own assessment of exactly what care the person needs.

Care homes going bust
The government also says it will consult on whether further steps are need to ensure that people carry on receiving care if their care home provider goes bust.

One of the biggest complaints about the current system is that it’s a postcode lottery, with different local authorities taking a different approach to who qualifies for care (either in their home or in a care home). The government says there will be universal standards and thresholds so everyone will know what the rules are.

Transparent complaints procedure
All organisations providing care have to have a clear and effective complaints system, which is monitored by the Care Quality Commission. If the care provider or a local authority doesn’t deal with your complaint properly, you can take it to the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate. Now the government says that the Ombudsman will publish data on complaints, and how these were resolved, by 2013.

SAVVY TIP: This will include data on named local authorities or providers against which complaints have been upheld.

Paying for care
The Government has shelved proposals on how to pay for care — for now. What it has said, in its interim report (which you can download – it’s halfway down the page), is that it agrees with the proposals of the Dilnot Commission, which said that the amount that people should have to pay for their own care should be capped and that the means-tested threshold should be raised considerably (you can read my article about the Dilnot report here).

What has the government said today?
It won’t make a decision on how to change the way we pay for care until the next Spending Review. Janet Davies, SavvyWoman’s long term care expert who’s from care fee specialists Symponia says: “Andrew Lansley seems to have used Dilnot’s report as a pick and mix sweet counter. On the surface, it would appear that that Dilnot’s funding cap has been taken out for a spin and returned as unsatisfactory. On one hand the Government seems to support it but admits there is no money to implement it.”

SAVVY TIP: If you need help with paying for a relative’s care fees now, you can download a free guide to paying for care from Symponia’s website.

The government has said it wants to introduce a Universal Deferred Payments scheme from April 2015 so that no one will be forced to sell their home to pay for care in their lifetime, and that’s something it’s committed to do in today’s White Paper.

What is a deferred payment scheme?

– A deferred payment scheme is ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme for care costs. The person needing care doesn’t pay the cost until their property is sold (which is normally when they die); instead the local authority pays for their care and puts a ‘charge’ on their home.

SAVVY TIP: The government says in its White Paper that after April 2015, no one in England should be forced to sell their home while they or their husband/wife or civil partner are still alive.

– Local authorities should charge a nominal interest rate. The government says it wants the deferred payment scheme to be cost neutral, so local authorities don’t use it as a way to generate revenue.

– A number of local authorities already offer deferred payment schemes. However, not all offer them and, among those that do, it’s often not very well publicised.

SAVVY TIP: Currently deferred payment schemes can be interest free, whereas the White Paper proposes that local authorities would charge interest (albeit at a low level).

Other financial measures
From October, veterans will not have to use their injury compensation to pay for care and people who have a disability and live in a care home will no longer have to give up their wages to pay for their care.

Related articles:

What are the options if you want to pay for care?

Can you give away your home if you want to avoid care fees?

Understanding lasting powers of attorney

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