Category Archives: Social care

Older people miss out on support under new rules

Social care rules aim to end ‘postcode lottery’

 Local councils provide home help services and assess who they will fund

The government is attempting to end the “postcode lottery” over care for elderly and disabled people in England.

Under new draft rules all councils in England would have to fund services for those judged to have “substantial” needs, from 2015.

Charities say that threshold is too high and would exclude many people who need help with everyday tasks.

And councils say they want assurances that any extra costs incurred will be fully funded.

Local authorities run social care services, such as home help with washing, eating and dressing or residential care, and decide who they will provide them to and whether they will pay for them.

Little consistencyCouncils can assess people as having “critical”, “substantial”, “moderate” or “low” needs. Only four councils provide care for people in all four categories – 16 councils fund those with “moderate” needs while most, 130, only fund those with “substantial” or “critical” needs.

Fifteen-minute care visits are not good enough

Almost three quarters of local authorities are still commissioning care visits to the elderly lasting only 15 minutes, figures show.

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Many councils buy in care from outside firms in blocks of a quarter of an hour, leaving carers trying to complete a range of tasks with each pensioner in a short space of time.

These tasks can include dressing, washing, and heating up meals, as well as cleaning up incontinent pensioners and administering medicines.

Charities have warned that such short visits mean the carer does not have enough time to do all this.

Social care and health professionals should do more to support family carers

The UK’s 6.5m unpaid carers play a vital role, yet too often their contribution is ignored or misunderstood

Professionals are uniquely placed to recognise the role carers perform. They can help them with local support and services.

Unpaid carers are vitally important partners in supporting people to live independently. If we accept this, then it naturally follows that social care and health professionals have a fundamental role in helping carers to recognise how important their work is.

This year, Skills for Care, of which I am chief executive, is delighted to be supporting Carers Week (10-16 June), the theme of which is Prepared to Care? Over the course of this week we are working with social care and health professionals to see how they can pro-actively support the UK’s 6.5 million carers.

Social care and health professionals might not always fully understand the central role of the carer or, worse still, ignore it. We know that sometimes professionals don’t listen to what they are saying or may even see the carer as interfering and not acting in the best interests of the service user. But by embracing the role of the carer and helping them to understand their role we can avoid adversarial situations that can arise between professionals and carers. It makes much more sense to recognise people in a caring role as a major partner in the delivery of a person’s support and to support the carer also.

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