Government under fire over social care inaction

29 November 2017

Millions of people are delaying making decisions about social care as “confusion” reigns over the direction of government policy.

A report by retirement provider Just found that 4.2 million people aged between 65 and 74 said they were confused by the government’s plans for social care.

Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to U-turn on proposed reforms to social care funding in the summer. Her plans would have seen older people paying more towards the cost of their own care, but the proposals were dropped due to protests within the Conservative Party and elsewhere.

Ms May’s government now intends to publish a paper on social care in the first half of 2018.

However, Just says this indecision is causing people to delay crucial decisions on their future social care. It reports that 3.8 million people are delaying making financial plans for their future residential care until after the government explains how it intends to fund these services.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just, says: “It is crucial that people can plan ahead and make positive choices about their care in later life, but the Care Report 2017 shows there’s a very real sense that confusion over government policy is stopping people from doing this.

“Delaying plans puts people at greater risk of having to make decisions at a point of crisis, when they are ill-prepared mentally, physically, and financially to get the outcome they want.”

Care home provision criticised

A separate report has criticised care home provision across much of England, with many users being subject to inadequate service.

An investigation into the market by Which? found that in some areas of England, more than half of all beds were rated as requiring improvement or inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.

In the London borough of Westminster, it reported 69% of beds in care homes were rated poorly. A high proportion of low grade care was also found in Manchester and Wakefield, where 58% of care home beds were below par.

Kirklees (57%), Portsmouth (56%) and Tameside (55%) councils also reported more than half of beds as requiring improvement or as inadequate.

In total, 45 English councils have more than a third of their beds housed in poor quality facilities.

Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets at Which?, says people going into care face a postcode lottery.

“Having to choose a poor care home isn’t really making a choice at all, and it’s disturbing to know that so many people across the country are already in care homes that are clearly not good enough,” he says.

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