The solution to social care will not be easy. Whatever suggestion is made by the Dilnot commission, someone will have to pay – be it all of us through taxes, or the individuals themselves when they need care. The question is how we can split this cost up in the fairest and safest way. In a speech this week, Paul Burstow has ruled out tax-funded care and it is widely expected that the Commission into the Funding of Care and Support led by economist Andrew Dilnot will suggest a cap of around £35,000 which the individual will have to pay, hopefully backed up by insurance, after which care will be funded by the state. The options for social care funding were discussed in our report “Take Care”.
One of the key elements of any reform must be the public debate and public education surrounding the reform, the need for change, and what form the change should take. Recent inflammatory headlines have been very good at apportioning blame, but have not helped to find solutions. The inevitable outcry at whoever is required to pay for this care will have to stop – supporting the old and vulnerable in society is not optional, and we need public agreement on the best way to do this.
One option that should not be forgotten in trying to reduce the cost of good quality care is the use of telecare. Telecare allows alerts to inform carers when someone has had an accident, allowing them between visits to rest secure in the knowledge that they would be alerted if something was wrong with their client. This allows carers to reduce the number of quick check-up visits necessary and concentrate instead on providing good quality care to those that need it. Telecare allows the vulnerable to remain living safely in their homes for longer, and so reduces the need for expensive residential care home places. Many elderly people would like to continue living in their own homes for as long as possible.