Derek Wanless’s plan to fund long-term care through a “partnership” between the state and individuals won backing at a Community Care conference this week.
Around half of delegates at the conference, also organised by the Right care, Right deal coalition of charities, backed Wanless’s model in an indicative vote on the future funding of long-term care. By contrast, there was limited support for free personal care or the current means-tested system.
In his landmark 2006 report on older people’s social care for the King’s Fund, Wanless said the state should meet two-thirds of the personal care costs of all those in need of care, and match-fund individual contributions up to the total.
No magic solution
Addressing this week’s conference, the former banker and government adviser said there was “no magic solution” to the future funding of social care, but that the partnership model gave “value for money”.
The government is currently conducting a six-month “national debate” on the future funding of adult care, ahead of a green paper next year. It has estimated that the increasing number of older and disabled people would leave a public funding gap of £6bn in 20 years’ time if increases in spending only keep pace with economic growth.
Stephen Burke, chief executive of Right care Right deal member Counsel and Care, said any future funding system should be universal – offering a minimum level of provision for all, regardless of wealth, along the lines of the partnership model.
He said: “There needs to be a universal offer, as that is the way we are going to get buy-in and encourage people to pay.”
When it announced the green paper last October, the government promised that it would be based on the principles of “progressive universalism” – suggesting some level of publicly-funded provision for all service users with extra support targeted at the poorest.
However, the univeral element may only stretch to the provision of advice and information on care services and assessments – not the direct funding of care, as proposed by Wanless.
Speaking last month, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president John Dixon said he felt the Wanless model would prove too expensive, though added that the government was interested in elements of it.
Concerns over public engagement
The conference also heard concerns that there may not be enough engagement with the public about the future of social care in the current process.
Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK, another Right care, Right deal member, said: “We need to have a public debate, and what I worry about is that it won’t happen. We have to get it into language that people understand. We don’t have all the answers and there is a lot of thinking that needs to be done to arrive at a public consensus.”
Early discharge from hospital
The conference also heard that acute NHS trusts were currently benefitting from work councils were doing on enabling people to leave hospital as early as possible.
Susannah White, director of health and community services at Southwark Council and chief executive of Southwark Primary Care Trust, said trusts had been able to save around £1m through early discharge work in her south London borough.
She said the council was asking the Department of Health if some of the saving could be poured back into the social care system.
Government engagement process on future funding of adult care