The long-awaited government white paper in response to the Dilnot review of care for the elderly was health secretary Andrew Lansley’s opportunity to build a legacy of which he could be proud.
Without a care
The publication this week of the long-awaited government white paper in response to the Dilnot review of care for the elderly was health secretary Andrew Lansley’s opportunity to build a legacy of which he could be proud. It could also be political gold dust, helping secure the grey vote in 2015. Instead, Mr Lansley and his Treasury counterparts kicked it down the road until after the next election. So why no action and where now?
As ever, it boils down to money. The cost of accepting Dilnot’s recommendation of capping care costs at £35,000 for everyone would be £1.7 billion a year. For a government struggling to deliver on its promise of cutting the deficit this was never going to be an easy pill to take. Yet all the facts point to it being one which is only going to get harder to swallow.
According to a recent Nuffield Trust report, without urgent reform to address rising demand, the adult social care bill will balloon from £14.6 billion in 2010/11 to £23 billion in 2025/26.
This is at a time when, as our survey with Capita in our care and support special shows, almost nine in 10 housing providers have had their supporting people funding, which includes elderly care services, cut. This is despite demand for services rising for four fifths of our survey respondents – for a third of respondents this was by up to 20 per cent.
As a result, housing providers are finding innovative solutions. As we report this week, Home Group’s ‘A good death’ project is improving people’s palliative care by allowing them to stay in their own homes and saving the NHS money.
Then there is the extra care housing provided by Housing 21 and others which, rather than meaning people have to sell their homes to fund their care, allows them to move to more appropriate homes which they still own. These are just two examples where closer ties between housing, health and social care budgets could encourage landlords to invest, and hence give better outcomes for less money.
The £200 million for 6,000 supported homes which Mr Lansley announced this week is a great first step, but the larger question still looms and Mr Lansley still needs to answer it.