Much awaited white paper on social care finally out – for better or for worse?

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12 July 2012

Much awaited white paper on social care finally out – for better or for worse?

Dr Rekha Elaswarapu, Helping Hands Advisor

Caring for our future: Reforming care and support – the much awaited white paper on social care was finally published yesterday. The paper promises to ensure:

  • Personalisation, choice and information, independence, dignity and safe care
  • Better training to more people working in care and support
  • Enabling communities to share skills and talents and opportunities for people to get involved in their local communities
  • Better support for carers
  • Continuity of care when people move from one area to another.

I had the opportunity to attend the All Party Parliamentary Group on hospice and palliative care yesterday at the House of Commons. The event was particularly aimed at the Prime Minister’s challenge for dementia care. It was attended by many experts in the area and also by Paul Burstow, Minister of Care services who stressed the coalition government’s commitment towards improving social care services for older people. He also talked about possibility of imposing a legal duty to ensure continuity of care on receiving councils when people move from one area to another.  The meeting was also attended by the  Rt. Hon MP Hazel Blears who talked about her personal experience of caring for a relative with dementia. The announcement of the white paper has had mixed reactions from various parts of social care arena.

While everyone generally welcomes the long overdue paper which raises the profile of the issues in the provision of social care there are still huge concerns about lack of clarity about funding. The closest mention of funding has been about death tax which is aimed at protecting older people going into care having to sell their home. However they may be able to borrow from government which could be settled from the sale of house after their death. This initiative only feels like delaying the settlement of funding for care but not necessarily a favourable solution. It has been noted many times that older people have expressed an inability to pass on their assets to their children due to having to use the equity released from sale of the house to pay for their care.

Without any robust proposals for better funding of the social care sector the policy ambitions may just remain aspirations and the older people may have to wait a long while to see any real differences to their care.

Alongside the white paper a care and support bill is being introduced which aims at simplifying the legislative framework around social care services in this country.

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