The Bill claiming to bring in the promised free home care for those with critical needs was introduced to parliament yesterday. There is a lengthy ‘impact assessment’ available at the Department of Health website that I don’t have time to trawl through before going to work this morning.
A brief perusal confirmed that the ‘critical’ needs to be included that will lead to the ‘free’ care will be restricted, understandably in light of the name of the legislation to ‘personal care’.
According to the document above, personal care includes
Physical assistance and prompting in relation to
-eating and drinking
-washing or bathing
-care of skin, nails and hair
And to be eligible, as I read it anyway, there would need to be four aspects that would lie within the ‘critical’ band.
This obviously reduces the ‘access’ to the ‘free’ funding. I use inverted commas for the ‘free’ aspect as obviously there will be a payment through taxation and again, some local authorities may be attracting a higher cost than others – I am thinking perhaps of some traditional ‘retirement’ towns that perhaps might have a heavier burden on them than other districts.
The other concern about the legislation is that in an interview with The Times yesterday with Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, who suggested that money to pay for the Personal Care at Home Bill will be diverted from funds for research into cancers and dementia.
This is hardly a popular move and one I can see the government fast back-tracking on but it goes to show how little consideration has been spent on these plans to reduce charges for homecare.
There is also to be a further focus on re-enablement and rehabilitation which, it is hoped, would reduce the ongoing care costs as it would reduce the need for interventions when more access to recovery is envisaged. This is definitely a positive outcome – I have long thought that there has been too little focus on lower level needs that progress into much higher needs if not addressed at the time. I could run off countless ‘scare’ stories about trying to arrange for some kind of rehab input when someone is discharged from hospital but they would probably not be believed. All I can say is that if it is to get better, that is no bad thing.
I still remain sceptical though. It seems like a sticking plaster to a haemorrage of a problem that noone seems to want to think through and that social care is being used as a toy to tempt voters terrified of sacrificing their childrens’ inheritance due to some kind of ‘entitlement’ to ‘things for free’ that has been created.
Whether that is the Tories and their hotchpotch policy of providing ‘insurance’ against the cost of residential care that no sensible person would take up – or the haphazard ‘free personal care for all with 4 or more critical banded needs under FACS’ that Labour are now proposing.
Personally, I can’t see the legislation being passed in the lifetime of this Parliament anyway so it is something of a moot point but if there is to be a more creative focus on re-enablement coming out of the debate, that is definitely A Good Thing.
I hope to spend a little more time reading through the proposals at length to give a slightly more cognisant appraisal over the next few days!