Click here to skip to content

Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2009): Care of the elderly - UK

Caring for older people in the community

A. Hudson and L. Moore (editors)

Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009

The book discusses complex physical, social and psychological needs of older people which pose many diverse challenges. Throughout the book the use of reflection points and scenarios enables the reader to reflect on current issues and consider how underpinning theory supports practice. Each chapter is evidence based and fully referenced, with full contact details of charities. The book looks at past and current influences on practice, social context and contemporary social policy, and challenges such as:

  • health promotion for older people
  • sexual health
  • alcohol and substance abuse
  • working with the older person with a learning disability and the older person with dementia in the community setting
  • the role of technology in monitoring health in the community

Commissioning dementia care: implementing the National Dementia Strategy

S. Iliffe and J. Wilcock

Journal of Integrated Care, Aug. 2009, p. 3-11

This paper reviews the scale of the problem of dementia and its likely impact on services in the near future. It discusses some of the key recommendations of the National Dementia Strategy and explores debates about dementia advisors, economic modelling of innovative dementia services, and the need for widespread training in the recognition of and response to dementia. Finally, it offers an approach to changing professional practice that is based on adult learning principles and workplace-based reflective practice.

Free social care for the elderly to be focus of Labour plans

P. Wintour

The Guardian, Nov.17th 2009, p.9

Social care for the elderly will be at the centre of Queen's speech in which the government will announce free care for some of the most needy pensioners in their own homes. Labour officials expect the package to cost 700m, or 38 per week for each of the 350,000 beneficiaries. The free service would be introduced by next October.

Grandparent carers are 'forgotten poor'

H. Mooney

Public Finance, Oct. 30th-Nov. 5th 2009, p. 13

A survey by the charity Grandparents Plus found that 40% of grandparents looking after their grandchildren full-time were struggling to cope financially and were overlooked by social services. Some 38% of grandparent carers were living on a net income of less than 10,000 a year. Two-thirds of families surveyed had not received help from social workers even when they asked for it, and three-quarters of those who had had contact with social workers were not happy with the service.

The health, social care and housing needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older people: a review of the literature

S. Addis and others

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol.17, 2009, p. 647-658

This paper reports the findings of a literature review of the health, social care and housing needs of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults undertaken in 2006 for the Welsh Assembly Government. Although the LGBT population is growing at the same rate as that of older people in general, the needs and experiences of these groups have been largely disregarded by the majority of health and social care institutions. Current practices in health and social care will, at best, marginalise the needs of these groups. Additionally, given the historic role of health and social care in suppressing these identities, older LGBT people appear likely to continue to avoid disclosing their sexual identity, thereby perpetuating discrimination and inequality of care as service providers overlook their needs.

HM Revenue & Customs: dealing with the tax obligations of older people

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09; HC 961)

A significant number of older people pay too much or too little tax. Errors occur because many people's tax affairs become more complicated when they reach pension age and HMRC's systems do not cope well with their multiple sources of income. The NAO estimates that, by March 2009, some 1.5 million older people had overpaid tax by an average of 171 (250 million in total), and around 500,000 older people had underpaid tax by an average of 207 (100 million in total). These errors can have a disproportionate effect on older people as their net average annual income of 16,000 was around 25 per cent below the national average in 2006-07. The Department expects a new computer system introduced in June 2009 to reduce the level of errors. Older people may also be paying more tax because they do not claim additional age-related tax allowances. The NAO estimates that some 3.2 million older people do not claim the additional allowances. HMRC estimates that some 2.4 million older people have also paid around 200 million more in tax because they did not have their savings income paid gross. HMRC spends around 36 million per year in staff costs on dealing with enquiries from older people which tend to be more complicated than normal. Demographic changes are likely to increase the pressures and costs for HMRC. The Department should rethink its approach to ensure that older people get the financial support to which they are entitled.

Meeting need or chasing votes?

J. Smith

Caring Times, Nov. 2009, p.8

Elderly care has become politically fashionable in England, with both the Labour and Conservative parties publishing plans for reform. The Labour government is proposing making homecare free for 350,000 of the most vulnerable older people. This initiative, costing 670m, will be paid for by raiding local authority and NHS budgets. The Conservatives have come out in favour of an insurance scheme, under which retired people would be guaranteed a free place in a care home in return for a premium of 8,000.

(For comment on the Labour proposals, see Daily Telegraph, Nov. 20th 2009, p. 14; Daily Telegraph, Nov. 19th 2009, p. 5)

Out of the wards and on with life

S. Shepherd

Health Service Journal, Nov. 5th 2009, p. 20-21

Presents a case study of the benefits of a care coordination scheme for older people run by NHS Brent and Brent Council. The integrated care coordination service offers housing, welfare, pensions and mental health advice. The service targets older people at risk of emergency hospital admission over the next 12 months or with care management issues. It demonstrates that early interventions to reduce hospital admissions both improve the quality of older people's lives and are cost effective.

Over the age limit

T. Marshall

Roof, Nov./Dec. 2009, p. 22-25

Meeting the housing needs of a rapidly ageing population is placing a huge burden on the public finances. Councils are responding by raising the eligibility levels for domiciliary care and by withdrawing wardens from sheltered housing complexes and replacing them with floating support workers. In 2010 the Supporting People budget is being cut by 60m and as the ringfence protecting it will be removed; councils could then withdraw housing support from older people's services and spend the money elsewhere. Help with fees for permanent residency in a care home is already means-tested, and people with assets over 23,000 have to meet the full costs of their accommodation and personal care. It is predicted that more and more of the onus will be placed on individuals to meet the cost of their care.

The use of antipsychotic medication for people with dementia: time for action

S. Banerjee

Department of Health, 2009

Antipsychotic drugs are widely prescribed to combat the behavioural and psychological difficulties such as aggression and wandering which can accompany dementia. Report finds that almost 2,000 dementia patients die every year after being wrongly prescribed these drugs to keep them quiet. It concludes that only 36,000 of the 180,000 patients given the drugs actually benefit from them and makes 11 recommendations aimed at reducing their use. A core recommendation is that all primary care trusts should commission services which make specialists in geriatric mental health available to work with GPs and care homes.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web