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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2012): Care of the elderly - UK

Dementia funding to end use of chemical cosh

T. Ross

Daily Telegraph, May 23rd 2012, p. 1

Officials estimated that 1,800 patients with dementia a year died prematurely as a result of strokes or other medical complications arising from the use of anti-psychotic drugs to control their behaviour. The government announced a £30m research programme to pay for investigations into other methods of managing behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia patients.

Elderly face 'revolving door' hospital care under nursing cuts

S. Adams

Daily Telegraph, May 14th 2012, p. 14

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned that elderly patients faced being shuttled between hospital and home because of cuts to community nursing. An RCN survey showed that the number of community nurses had dropped by 3.5% since 2009, with the loss of about 1,700 posts. The cuts were occurring as demand for community nurses was increasing due to population ageing.

Essential Standards of Quality and Safety: all things to all men?

C. Butterworth

Caring Times, May 2012, p. 14

The Essential Standards of Quality and Safety published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2010 apply to nearly all health and social care organisations, from hyperbaric chambers to care homes for older people. This article points out two unintended consequences of producing one over-arching set of standards for so many diverse services. The first is that CQC inspectors are making up their own rules, and the second is that commissioners now lack a clear, independent way of knowing how providers are performing, and so are devising their own systems.

'Get the elderly out into the garden to keep them healthy and active'

J. Bingham

Daily Telegraph, May 18th 2012, p. 14

Paul Burstow, the social care minister, said in a conference speech that social workers could be asked to assess older people's hobbies, talents and friendship groups to find ways of keeping them active and preventing isolation. He argued that a radical shift away from relying on the state to care for older people to involving the wider community was needed. He added that spending money on keeping older people active and living independent lives for longer would ultimately save the taxpayer millions of pounds.

Labour 'will pull out of elderly care talks unless Coalition acts'

T. Ross

Daily Telegraph, May 8th 2012, p. 6

The Prime Minister promised to address the rising costs of health and social care for an ageing population, but progress on how to pay for reforms has been slow. Liz Kendall, Labour shadow minister for care and older people, said that her party would pull out of cross-party talks on the issue unless the government demonstrated its commitment to tackling the growing crisis in the system.

Number of elderly people who get free home care falls by 11%

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, May 15th 2012, p. 6

The number of vulnerable older and disabled people who had home care services fully funded by their local authority had fallen by 11% in England since 2009, according to newly published figures. The data also revealed wide variations in council charges across England. Freedom of information requests to 120 councils revealed that home care services – which send carers to help vulnerable older and disabled people get up in the morning, and get washed, dressed and fed – were becoming more expensive and inaccessible to many of the population. And there were wide disparities in the price people paid for care depending on their location. Home care, for example, was free in Tower Hamlets but cost £21.50 an hour in Brighton and Hove.

'On the street where you live': neighbourhood deprivation and quality of life among community-dwelling older people in Edinburgh, Scotland

R. Mõttus and others

Social Science and Medicine, vol. 74, 2012, p. 1368-1374

Perceived satisfaction with life is central to successful ageing. This study examines associations between objectively determined neighbourhood deprivation and four different aspects of quality of life: physical, psychological, social (concerning relationships) and environmental, using a sample of 1091 Scots aged between 68 and 71 from the Edinburgh area. Results showed neighbourhood deprivation to be directly associated with perceived quality of life in the physical and environmental domains independently of childhood cognitive ability, educational attainment and social class. The 'street where people live' affects their quality of life.

Promoting personalization in social care services for older people

C. Xie and others

Journal of Gerontological Social Work, vol.55, 2012, p. 218-232

The government is pursuing an agenda for personalisation of social care in England that involves tailoring services to individual needs and preferences. This agenda involves several inter-related themes spanning service configuration, process, delivery and outcomes. Four are described in this article: 1) integration of health and social care in both service configuration and delivery; 2) a shift to a greater emphasis on preventive services; 3) supporting people to live independently at home through a range of community care support; and 4) provision of more individually tailored services offering users choice and control. This article reports data from a national survey on these four themes, providing baseline information on services for older people in England at the outset of the change process designed to deliver more personalised care. Findings showed variable progress towards provision of more personalised care for older people.

Reform of the care system not for the faint-hearted

B. Ferguson

Caring Times, Apr. 2012, p. 16

In this comment piece, the author calls for responsibility for commissioning community services for older people to be transferred to the NHS. Funds should be top sliced from the budgets of local authorities which are currently responsible for commissioning and ring fenced to preserve their integrity in health service coffers.

Reforming social care: options for funding

A. Charlesworth and R. Thorlby

Nuffield Trust, 2012

This report argues that money to pay for a new system of social care should come from better off older people and not from younger generations. It sets out options as to the how extra money needed could be raised. It suggests that some of the £140bn a year spent on older people through the NHS and pensions could be diverted to social care. It argues that concessions such as the Winter fuel allowance, bus passes, and free TV licences could be withdrawn from wealthier pensioners, freeing up as much as £14bn a year. Alternatively, it proposes levying National Insurance contributions on retired people who work.

The Social care market: fixing a broken system

C. Skidmore

Free Enterprise Group, 2012

The report proposes that families should be paid to care for elderly relatives at home, instead of placing them in council-funded residential care. An average weekly bill for a place in a care home is around £500.00. Under the report's proposals, the typical allowance given to a family caring for a relative would be about £350.00 per week. It estimates that the Government could save £1.14bn per year by funding families directly, while also improving quality of life for the elderly.


Transforming social care for the poorest older people: a CSJ report ahead of the Government's forthcoming White Paper on social care

Centre for Social Justice

The Centre, 2012

Over the last two years the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has undertaken extensive primary research into the state of social care for the poorest older people in Britain. Culminating in the publication of two major reports – 'The Forgotten Age' in November 2010 and 'Age of Opportunity' in June 2011 – the CSJ took evidence from hundreds of professionals working with the most disadvantaged elderly: social workers, GPs, palliative community care nurses, hospital geriatricians and psychiatrists, adult social care directors, care home and home care workers and charity leads. In addition to this, the CSJ interviewed many older people themselves – hearing them speak for themselves about their first-hand experience of the care system. The picture which emerged was a system at breaking point, all too often failing miserably the people it was set up to help. Yet while the current means-tested system is at breaking point, the reform proposal currently under consideration is mainly concerned with extending eligibility for care and in effect protecting the housing wealth of those fortunate enough to have accrued it. As it prepares to publish its social care White Paper this spring, the Government risks forgetting the very poorest elderly and focussing its limited resources on the wrong group.

Why gardening can save the NHS millions

J. Bingham

Daily Telegraph, May 28th 2012, p. 15

This article presents a scheme which linked up volunteers with older people needing help with maintaining their gardens. An audit of the project, which involved 46 older people in London, concluded that it could have saved the taxpayer as much as £500,000 a year by helping prevent isolation and depression and improving mobility and physical activity levels. The care minister Paul Burstow indicated that this scheme and similar initiatives would form part of the Coalition government's White Paper on social care.

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