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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2011): Care of the elderly - UK

Baby boomer wealth 'must fund their old-age care'

T. Ross

Daily Telegraph, Feb. 16th 2011, p. 1 + 2

Lord Warner, who is a member of the independent commission investigating eldercare funding, has warned that the baby boom generation will have to use the wealth it has built up in property to pay for care. He called on insurance firms to develop creative products to avoid pensioners being forced to sell their homes. As the population ages, the numbers of younger working age people are shrinking and they cannot be expected to fund care for better off older people. However, there will always be a state safety net for the poorest pensioners.

Care and compassion? Report of the Health Service Ombudsman on ten investigations into NHS care of older people

Parliamentary Health Services Ombudsman

London: TSO (House of Commons Papers, session 2010-2011; HC 778)

This report tells the stories of ten people over the age of 65, from all walks of life and from across England. These stories, the results of investigations concluded by the Parliamentary Health Services Ombudsman in 2009 and 2010, illuminate the gulf between the principles and values of the NHS Constitution and the felt reality of being an older person in the care of the NHS in England. The investigations reveal an attitude - both personal and institutional - which fails to recognise the humanity and individuality of the people concerned and to respond to them with sensitivity, compassion and professionalism.

(See also The Independent, Feb. 15th 2011, p. 1)

Fair to whom? Tackling attempts to reduce fees

J. Landau

Caring Times, Feb. 2011, p.19

The 2010 comprehensive spending review included a commitment to reduce local authority spending by 28% over four years. In some cases local authorities have responded by reducing fees to care homes unilaterally in flagrant breach of their contracts with owners and without consultation. Providers find it difficult to steer a course which is assertive yet does not compromise future commissioning. This article looks at the responses available to care home owners.

Hearing the person with dementia: person-centred approaches to communication for families and caregivers

B. McCarthy

London: J. Kingsley, 2011

Losing the ability to communicate can be a frustrating and difficult experience for people with dementia, their families and carers. As the illness progresses, the person with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to express themselves clearly, and to understand what others say. Written with both family and professional carers in mind, this book clearly explains what happens to communication as dementia progresses, how this may affect an individual's memory, language and senses, and how carers might need to adapt their approach as a result. Advocating a person-centred approach to dementia care, the author describes methods of verbal and non-verbal communication, techniques for communicating with people who cannot speak or move easily, and strategies for communicating more effectively in specific day-to-day situations, including at mealtimes, whilst helping the person with dementia to bathe or dress, and whilst out and about. Exercises at the end of each chapter encourage the carer to reflect on their learning and apply it to their own circumstances, and guidelines for creating a life story with the person with dementia as a means of promoting good communication are also included.

I robot, I care

M. Samuel

Community Care, Jan. 20th 2011, p. 26-27

A Europe-wide research programme is seeking to show that in future home care could be successfully delivered to older people by robots. The Mobiserv project aims to develop a telecare system to help older people live independently with a robot at its heart. The robot's role would be to help older people carry out daily activities, stay healthy and communicate with others, notably family, friends and care professionals.

New 'gold standard' for care homes

O. Wright

The Independent, Feb. 28th 2011, p. 1

The article reports that the Government is introducing 'excellence tests' for care homes to assess a number of parameters, such as staff-patient ratios, staff training and turnover, daily activities for residents, and the quality of care offered. Ministers have warned that in the future only those institutions which meet the new standard will receive public funding. Only institutions that professionally register all their staff are expected to be allowed to take part in the assessment and the results will be available for family members to evaluate each institution. At Christmas, the Care Quality Commission carried out spot inspections which revealed significant lapses in the quality of care provided. Details of the 'excellence tests' are to be published on 28/02/2011. Critics of the new scheme have said that small homes may not be able to afford the costs involved in registering and could go bankrupt. This, they claim, would force residents to move even if the residence they were in provided excellent care. Later in the year, the Government will publish details on the reform of the care sector. Such plans are likely to involve the introduction of an 'insurance model' to pay for care needed in later life. Initially, the scheme will be optional. Under the plans, all staff members working for homes rated 'excellent' will likely have to be registered with a new Health and Care Workers Professions Council, the implication being that carers could be 'struck off' for poor practice.

Who cares? Funding adult social care over the next decade

Bupa

2011

This report argues that the chronic under-funding of residential care homes , a growing shortage of places, and a rapidly ageing population will mean that more vulnerable elderly people will have nowhere to go but hospital. If current trends continue, 100,000 of 170,000 NHS beds will be filled by elderly people who are well enough to be in residential care. The next few years will see the problem getting worse as the report predicts that the number of care home places lost per year will rise from 5,190 in 2011 to 8,500 by 2015 and will stay at that level until 2020. The report blames the looming crisis on a 17-year legacy of under-funding in the care home sector. It warns that cash-strapped councils are likely to spend some of the extra 2bn the Coalition government has earmarked for social care on other services because it has not been ringfenced.

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