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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 2002): Care of the Elderly - UK

CAN THE GOVERNMENT DELIVER ON ITS AMBITIONS FOR OLDER PEOPLE'S SERVICES?

K Leason

Community Care, Aug 1st-7th 2002, p.18-19

Discusses the governments latest plans for improving services for older people, including extension of direct payments, increased availability of intensive home care, levying of fines against local authorities for delayed discharges from hospital, faster needs assessment, and swifter supply of equipment to help people stay in their own homes.

CARE HOME RULES SET ASIDE IN MOVE TO CUT CLOSURES

N Timmins

Financial Times, July 24th 2002, p.5

In order to stem the tide of care home closures, the government has excused existing establishments from compliance with some of the recently introduced standards for the physical environment. There will also be £16b a year extra spent on social services for older people. This will purchase more training for social care staff, more home care support, more sheltered housing and extra support for carers. In addition direct payments will be offered to more than 400,000 older people so that they can purchase their own packages of care.

(See also Daily Telegraph, July 24th 2002, p.4; Times, July 24th 2002, p.2; Guardian, July 24th 2002, p.9)

DIRECT ACTION

C Harris

Health Service Journal, vol. 112, Aug 1st 2002, p.14-15

Summarises recently announced reforms in services for older people. All older people will be offered the choice of direct payments to purchase services from a variety of sources. By the end of 2004, social services will be expected to begin needs assessments within 48 hours of contact and to complete them within a month. Equipment will be supplied in a week. £70m will be spent on training social care staff and local authorities will be able to pay higher fees for care home places. The carers' grant will be doubled to £185m by 2006, providing respite care and breaks for an additional 136,000 carers.

DRAWING THE LINE: THE BOUNDARIES OF VOLUNTEERING IN THE COMMUNITY CARE OF OLDER PEOPLE

P Hoad

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 10, 2002, p.239-246

Volunteers are part of the "mixed economy of care" alongside the formal, paid work of the statutory and independent sectors and the informal care offered by family and friends. The boundaries between their work and those of other parts of the care division of labour depend on the exercise of social power and of negotiation at national, local and individual levels. Article looks at how the boundaries of volunteering to help older people are negotiated in contemporary Britain, based on a study of 14 schemes.

HARD TIMES

M Whetstone

London: Centre for Policy on Ageing, 2002

This study of 50 over-70s living on benefits shows that they view food as a flexible commodity, buying less in order to pay bills. Many spend less than £4.00 a day on food. Over one third of respondents received a small occupational pension, but, as they did not qualify for full benefits such as council tax and housing benefit, they were left with less disposable income than those qualifying for the minimum income guarantee. Proposes raising the state retirement income to help those in this poverty trap.

HAVE FAITH IN CARE HOMES

O Valios

Community Care, Aug 1st-7th 2002, p.40-41

Jewish care homes look after their elderly residents in a culturally appropriate setting. However this goes against the government's policy of discouraging the provision of care in "segregated" environments by religious or ethnic groups. Funding shortfalls and staff recruitment crises are also putting homes under pressure.

MILBURN RETREATS ON CARE HOME STANDARDS

J Carvel

The Guardian, Aug 20th 2002, p.5

The government yesterday scrapped its plans to force owners of care homes to improve conditions for older people by making them upgrade facilities and increase room sizes. In an attempt to stop proprietors quitting the business, Alan Milburn, the Health Secretary, published fresh proposals allowing established homes to stay as they are indefinitely.

PARTNERSHIP, PERFORMANCE AND PRIMARY CARE: DEVELOPING INTEGRATED SERVICES FOR OLDER PEOPLE IN ENGLAND

C Glendinning, A Coleman and K Rummery

Ageing and Society, vol.22, 2002, p.185-208

The development of health and social services for older people in England is currently shaped by three key factors:

  • the active involvement of front-line health professionals, especially GPs, in decisions about resource allocation and service development priorities;
  • the promotion of partnerships between health and other organisations to deliver "joined-up" services;
  • close performance management of organisations to ensure that they meet externally prescribed targets.

The priorities of older people themselves, especially for support and preventive services that can help maintain independence, are, in comparison, relatively overlooked.

TROUBLE AHEAD

R Winchester

Community Care, July 25th-31st 2002, p.20-31

Services for people with dementia are inadequate due to nursing home closures, and staff recruitment and training problems which lead to poor quality care. Moreover, most care required by people with dementia is classed as personal rather than nursing, so families have to pay.

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