A broken compromise

Revelations that nursing home owners are failing to pass on the NHS
supplement for free nursing care are unsurprising and confirm that
the policy is not working.

with the admission by the head of Westminster Healthcare that it
has overturned the unfeasible banding regime and instead given all
its residents the same rate, there is a clear warning this week to
the government that the current chaos cannot continue.

nursing home owners are in a very difficult position and are
struggling for survival in a world in which they must compete for
limited resources from local authorities. The councils in turn
blame the government for failing to properly fund care home

But the
anger and frustration of home-owners should not be taken out on
elderly residents and their families, who are often struggling
themselves to pay for the cost of care. Some family members are
even forced to top up the contribution from the local authority to
ensure their older relatives are able to stay in their care

After a
long campaign, the government came up with this poor compromise
rather than pay up for free care for all care home residents. But
however weak the solution is, older people in care homes have the
right to have their fees reduced and they must receive their
supplement. It would have been better if the money had been paid
directly to residents rather than to the home owners. But that is
no excuse for failing to pass it on.

Meanwhile, the unilateral action of Westminster Healthcare to
disregard the rules and “simplify” the supplement payment system
makes a mockery of government policy and licenses further

Concern is right to describe the policy as an “absolute shambles”.
The government must respond more forcefully than the threat of a
letter from health minister Jacqui Smith.

current system is unworkable. It is failing to give additional
money to those who deserve it, and care home owners are still
struggling to survive. It is time to look yet again at the funding
of long-term care.

– See
news page 8

Inquiry deserves respect

NSPCC is widely regarded as a national treasure, protecting
children and defending all that is good about family life. It is an
all too rare example of an institution that regularly wins plaudits
for the social care profession. So it would be a great pity if the
charity’s public image were put at risk.

Unfortunately, that is precisely what is happening. The latest
episode concerns the NSPCC’s role in the Victoria Climbie case: how
was it that two versions of the same document, dated on the same
day, apparently advocated completely opposed courses of action in
relation to Victoria, one stamped “no further action”, the other
stamped “accepted for ongoing service”?

charity’s submission to the Laming Inquiry sows confusion even as
it seeks to explain what went wrong. Like Haringey Council, which
failed to produce important background documents on cue, the
NSPCC’s treatment of the inquiry has been less than exemplary.

Not only
do these organisations have a duty to mount the most robust
possible case before the inquiry, they have a duty to the social
care profession. It is not just the future of child protection that
hangs in the balance, it is the reputation of the profession
itself. CC

– See
news page 6

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