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

Centenarian nation: one in four may live to 100th birthday

S. Jones

The Guardian, Apr. 20th 2011, p. 16

Figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that as many as 11 million people alive today will become centenarians. The pension minister, Steve Webb, said that, as a result, the pension system must be made fair and sustainable for future generations. Commenting on the ONS figures, David Sinclair, head of policy and research at the International Longevity Centre said that while the increase in life expectancy was a huge societal success, it came at a price of 'huge fiscal service pressure' and could generate more intergenerational tensions.

Exploring the advocacy needs of older people with mental health problems in the West Midlands

G. Brown and N. Standen

Working with Older People, vol. 15, Mar. 2011, p. 13-18

This article reports on a research study that explored the advocacy needs of older people aged 65 and over with mental health problems in Sandwell, West Midlands. Data were gathered through questionnaires completed by older people, carers and service providers. The study identified advocacy as beneficial for supporting older people with mental health problems whose voice is often marginalised in decision-making and found a range of circumstances in which advocacy might prove pertinent.

Fears for care home sector as Southern Cross faces cash crisis

M. Samuel and J. Dunning

Community Care, Mar. 24th 2011, p. 4-5

Considerable numbers of care homes in the UK could face financial difficulty, as the largest provider, Southern Cross Healthcare, struggles to avoid going into administration. Providers that mainly lease care home properties, or that carry high levels of debt relative to their capital, could face problems. Southern Cross, which operates 750 care homes, has found that its rental payments have become unsustainable.

Human rights and older clients

N. Ardill

Elder Law Journal, vol. 1, 2011, p. 53-60

This article gives an overview of the potential for using human rights to secure protection for older people, especially as users of health and social care services. With a primary focus on the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950, it examines some of the articles that are most likely to be relevant to older people. The paper also takes a broader look at other relevant human rights instruments, namely the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Principles for Older Persons. Recognising the close link between human rights and equality as a core human rights concept, it concludes by looking ahead to the impact of the Equality Act 2010, which will outlaw age discrimination in services and introduce a new public sector equality duty that includes age.

The last taboo: a guide to dementia, sexuality, intimacy and sexual behaviour in care homes

International Longevity Centre


Care homes often witness the development of intimate and sexual relationships between residents with dementia. Such relationships frequently meet with disapproval from both staff and relatives. This guide provides directions for care home staff on how to respond based on existing research evidence, best practice and interviews with stakeholders. It points out that, as long as a person with dementia is capable of making decisions about their life, any decision to embark on a sexual relationship should be respected. In case of doubt, it is essential for staff to carry out a capacity assessment in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005: deprivation of liberty safeguards

P. Gantley

Elder Law Journal, vol. 1, 2011, p. 159-166

The aim of the deprivation of liberty safeguards is to provide legal protection for those vulnerable people who are deprived of their liberty otherwise than under the Mental Health Act 1983, to prevent arbitrary decisions to deprive a person of liberty and to give rights to challenge deprivation of liberty authorisations. Older people are the most affected by the introduction of the safeguards. This article describes the processes involved in applying them.

My health - whose responsibility? Healthy behaviours and prophylactic drugs

P. Elwood

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, vol. 12, Mar. 2011, p. 50-55

At government and local health authority level, decisions have to be taken about the balance between short-term interventions in disease and long-term policies aimed at the preservation of health. There is a profound difference between these - the treatment of disease has in the main been delegated to healthcare professionals, while the protection of health is the responsibility of the individual. Healthcare practitioners are responsible for ensuring that the general public is adequately informed so that individuals can make informed choices about both the adoption of healthy lifestyles and the use of prophylactic medicines to ward off diseases.

Reducing hospital admissions from care homes: considering the role of a local enhanced service from GPs

D. Briggs and L. Bright

Working with Older People, vol. 15, Mar. 2011, p. 4-12

GPs, faced with a substantial growth in the number of residential homes caring for older people with complex health needs, have expressed concern about their ability to provide an adequate service. In some cases this led to demands by GPs for care homes to pay a retainer fee to enable them to provide a service. However, in other cases primary care trusts have committed funds to supporting practices to offer a more comprehensive service for patients living in care homes. This article looks at the impact of one local enhanced service on the work of GPs, care staff and residents in one London borough.

Right place - wrong person: dignity in the acute care of older people

W. Tadd and others

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, vol. 12, Mar. 2011, p. 33-43

This paper reports on a study undertaken to explore older people's experience of dignity in acute care, which utilises data drawn from direct observation of practice as well as individual interviews. A widespread view that acute care is not the right place for older people and a failure to recognise that the largest group of users of NHS hospitals are the very old, result in environments that are not friendly to older people generally, and are especially hostile to those with cognitive impairments. It also results in a culture that is risk averse and often defensive, where care is undervalued and professional accountability and discretion are replaced by standardised checklists, pathways and audits, and where getting the job done matters more than how the job is done, so that the focus is on the task and not the person.

Social care law developments: a sideways look at personalisation and tightening eligibility criteria

L. Clements

Elder Law Journal, vol. 1, 2011, p. 47-52

This article points out that the current personalisation agenda for the delivery of social care to older people has no legal basis. It then contrasts the optimistic vision of giving older and disabled people more choice and control over the services they receive with the grim reality of the inhuman treatment meted out to them by some local authorities intent on reducing costs. It argues that the courts are having difficulty recognising the human rights abuses suffered by elderly and vulnerable people who make a legal complaint about their treatment.

Summary of responses to the call for evidence

Commission on Funding of Care and Support


More than 250 organisations, including local authorities, charities and think tanks provided evidence for this report. The Commission has identified serious flaws in the system of care for older people, including lack of integration of health and social care, lack of information and support to help people plan for care, no national framework for assessment and eligibility, inflexibility in the delivery of services, and insufficient recognition of the contribution of carers. The report also voices concerns that more people are retiring before their mortgages are repaid, while people with disabilities are living longer and spending cuts are threatening services to the vulnerable. People end up having to use most of their income and assets to pay for care and can be left with very little income to live on. Middle-aged people struggle with the triple challenge of funding higher education for their children, saving for their retirement and paying for care for elderly relatives. Younger people now face grave difficulties in buying property, which could mean that they will have less housing wealth to pay for care in old age. The report concludes that the current system cannot continue and urgent reform is required.


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