* Local authorities must offer direct payments
to older people on discharge from hospital
* All assessments of older people must be
completed within one month after contact is made within 48 hours,
and equipment provided within a week
* Obligatory room size standards for all care
The government is injecting £1 billion a year into
older people’s services to improve choice, increase
independence, and tackle delayed discharge, health secretary Alan
Milburn told the House of Commons, writes
At the heart of the reforms are plans to give all older people
the choice of receiving direct payments to enable them to pay for
their own care.
“We will make it an obligation on every local authority to offer
older people access to direct payments,” Milburn said. “I believe
this reform will empower older people, their families and their
carers in a way that has never been possible before.”
Milburn also promised faster access to services. By the end of
2004, all assessments will begin within 48 hours of first contact
and will be completed within a month. All equipment needed will be
in place within a week.
In addition, local authorities will be given more money to pay
higher fees to care homes; £70 million will be made available
to train social care staff; and the carers’ grant be will
doubled to £185 million by 2006. There will be twice as many
people receiving intensive help at home and a 50 per cent increase
in the number of very sheltered housing places compared with 1997
Milburn also promised to legislate to make 70,000 additional
rehabilitation packages and all intermediate care services free,
whether provided by health or social services.
The extra funding is the detail behind the Chancellor’s
budget pledge in April to invest an extra 6 per cent a year into
social services for the next 3 years. Milburn described older
people as the “principal beneficiaries” of the extra funding.
However, health minister Jacqui Smith confirmed that
announcements on funding for children’s services would come
later this year.
By the end of 2002, two-thirds of the new money for older
people’s services will be ring-fenced, and will be given to
local authorities as part of their standard spending
Milburn gave no details on how fines for social services that
failed to meet delayed transfer targets would work, but said they
would be introduced next April and be linked to the new
Finally, he announced that the government had reneged on plans
to make the meeting of room size standards obligatory for all care
homes. Smith said that instead homes would be expected to spell out
to service-users whether they met the new standards or not.