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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2008): Care of the elderly - UK

6,000 care home funding gap exposed by Age Concern

Age Concern, 2008

Reports that cash-strapped local authorities are failing to pay the market rate for places in care homes, leaving pensioners and their families to make up the difference. It estimates that the average care home resident whose place is state funded has to pay 3,100 per year to close the funding gap. Some care homes also charge self-funders higher fees than state-funded residents, meaning that the former have to dig deeper into their savings to cover costs. The charity is calling on the government to put an extra 1bn into the system in the 2008 Pre-Budget Report.

Allow dementia sufferers to die, says old people's 'tsar' Bakewell

M. Beckford

The Daily Telegraph, Nov 17th 2008, p. 13

Elderly people should not be kept alive indefinitely by technology, according to the Government's new 'old people's tsar', Dame Joan Bakewell. She said that dementia sufferers should be allowed to die once their identities had faded away. There are now more pensioners than children in the country, thanks to rising life expectancy linked to healthier living and better health care, and one in four adults will be retired within 20 years. She suggested that the economy would not be able to sustain the increasing number of elderly people unless many of them stayed on in work beyond the current pension able ages of 60 for women and 65 for men, which will rise to 68 for both sexes by 2044.

Better partnership between care homes and the NHS: findings from the My Home Life programme

T. Owen and others

Journal of Care Services Management, vol. 3, no.1, 2008, p. 96-105

Many elderly residents of care homes have very limited access to NHS support despite the New Labour government's emphasis on partnership between health and social services. My Home Life, a new UK programme led by Help the Aged, National Care Forum and City University, aims to improve the quality of life for those living in, visiting or working in care homes for older people. The Programme has identified the need for improved access to healthcare as crucial in optimising the quality of life of older people in care homes. This paper explores the current difficulties that care homes face in accessing healthcare services and examines the potential for better partnership working between care homes and the NHS.

The economics of dementia

P. McCrone

British Journal of Healthcare Management, vol. 14, 2008, p. 437-440

This article summarises what we know about the costs of dementia and what evidence there is regarding drug treatments and psychological therapies. Dementia results in substantial economic costs; a recent estimate is 17bn a year in the UK. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has conducted evaluations of drug treatments and on this basis has recommended their use for moderate Alzheimer's disease only. Other interventions, such as cognitive stimulation therapy, are potentially cost-effective.

Elderly could be denied NHS treatment as ministers dither

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, Nov. 12th 2008, p. 1

The government has effectively shelved plans for new laws to outlaw age discrimination in health and social care. Campaigners are warning that older people will remain vulnerable to discrimination, and may be denied life-saving treatment.

A new vision for older people

A. Stevenson

Community Care, Oct. 30th 2008, p. 32

Councils have a local area leadership role to ensure that older people can live independently and actively for as long as possible. To create an effective support system all pieces of the jigsaw need to fit together. Universal services, such as transport, housing and shopping need to be 'age proofed'; care and health services need to be personalised; carers need to be recognised and supported; and information and advice services must be strengthened.

Older people want freedom to choose

C. Williams

Community Care, Nov. 6th 2008, p. 10-11

An evaluation of the 13 individual budget pilots initiated by the Department of Health for different user groups found that older people are less satisfied with individual budgets (IBs) than other service users. Older people reported being stressed and anxious and said that individual budgets felt more like a 'burden' than a boon giving them control over their lives. Care co-ordinators are also reported as being less confident in developing flexible and creative support plans for older people. Local authorities are rising to the challenge since the evaluation. The Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) has been following up progress and has identified number of improvements; as a result, the number of older people now taking up IBs is rising fast.

Safeguarding adults in social work

A. Mantell and T. Scragg (editors)

Exeter: Learning Matters, 2008

Safeguarding adults has a long history of neglect and scandal, but it is now starting to gain the same recognition as child protection. This book helps students and practitioners to understand this evolving field and to identify ways that they can develop their own good practice. The first part of the book explores the evolution of concepts and policies for safeguarding adults, with particular reference to the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. In the second section, the focus shifts to good practice in empowering vulnerable adults. The final section focuses on developing effective professional and inter-professional practice.

Transforming the quality of dementia care: consultation on a national dementia strategy

Department of Health

2008

The government's 2008 dementia care strategy aims to significantly improve services for people with dementia by: 1) improving public and professional awareness; 2) ensuring early diagnosis and appropriate interventions in the course of the disease; and 3) ensuring ongoing care and support.

(For summary see British Journal of Healthcare Management, vol. 14, 2008, p. 432-436)

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