Brown announced that he was starting a six month consultation to make decisions about reforms to the ‘social care’ system and in particular, its funding.
The Wanless Social Care Review was produced back in 2006 and it examined ways of paying for long term care in the face of an aging population. So it seems we are back again at the same place discussing the same issues although perhaps, a little more loudly, especially as a Green Paper on Social Care funding was initially announced back in October 2007 but it looks like the announcement today is in advance of another Green Paper on a similar subject.
A lot of eyes are turning to now to Scotland, naturally, with her much-lauded free personal care however, although it makes a wonderful headline policy, it isn’t without its problems.
There is always a cost attached to every service. I think expectation of free social care is a thing of the past or an unrealistic goal to work towards, however admirable it may be. Wanless recommended a free minimum level of care for all and the argument has a lot of merit. It could be topped up of course, but there should always be a means tested element because some people do have more money than others and it would allow the possibility of a better quality of care to be spread more widely.
Perhaps some more flexibility – such as would be afforded through personalisation would be one answer although this care would still need to be paid for.
The division between free health care and paid-for social care also seems to have blurred somewhere along the way, especially as it is clear that providing social care at an earlier stage can prevent higher costs in health care (through hospital stays) at a later stage.
As long as the budgets are separate there will be the pushing and shoving between the two posts as to who can make the other ‘service’ pay which really does noone any favours.
As far as I can determine, more money will need to be put into the system of care to improve it but that seems to be the result that noone wants to consider as the additional money is just not there.
It will certainly be an interesting process to follow and to participate in.