Counsel and Care today set 10 tests for the forthcoming green paper if it is to reform the adult social care system, which the charity described as riddled with confusion.
Counsel and Care said the reformed system must ensure universal provision for all users, regardless of where they live, with greater publicly funded support for those on low incomes; improve the skills and pay of the social care workforce; and integrate social care with health.
In particular, it called for the system to be transparent about charges and eligibility for care, saying there was widespread confusion about the current system.
It said that of more than 5,000 calls received by its advice team in the year to November 2007 almost one in five concerned requests for information on access to services and more than 15% concerned care home funding.
Today’s report won backing from fellow older people’s charity Help the Aged. Social care policy officer Elizabeth McLennan said: “There isn’t enough information for older people looking for care services or planning their future. Often people end up making quick and ill-informed decisions about care either during or just after a crisis.”
In October 2007, the government pledged to publish a green paper this year on reforming social care, including the current funding system.
Since then, speculation has focused on whether ministers will replace the current means-tested charging regime with one in which all care users receive some publicly-funded services, which they can then top up, with further state help for the poorest users. Such a model was proposed by Derek Wanless in his 2006 report for the King’s Fund on social care funding, and is backed by the Conservatives, while being considered by the Liberal Democrats.
Help the Aged