A high number of respondents in the public consultation on the future of adult social care would like an end to the current “postcode lottery”, it was said.
Reporting on the regional debates being held across England by the government, Alexandra Norrish, head of social care strategy at the Department of Health, said some members of the public were sceptical about a national system that may restrict local flexibility.
But many respondents argued that too much control at a local level would mean the continuation of the “postcode lottery”, she added.
“So many people have told us they don’t consider [the current system] to be fair and equitable.”
Norrish was addressing an audience of professionals and service user organisations at a Counsel and Care conference in London. As the civil servant leading the government’s green paper on the future of care and support, she explained that reform was necessary because of people’s rising expectations for high-quality care.
Stephen Burke, chief executive of the older people’s charity, said: “Services are not acceptable at the moment.” He added a new system should be “universal” and funded by a compulsory social care insurance.
There is also a crucial role for assistive technology in the future of social care, according to Evelyn Pellow, director of the Enabling Concepts consultancy, who argued for greater use of telecare and adapations to allow people to stay at home.
Norrish added that the regional and stakeholder debates also centred on how to provide an affordable, sustainable system, and proposals for directing state support to those who need it most: “Should there be the same level of responsibility for someone who has had an accident as a young adult, as there is for someone who has had their entire lifetime to save and prepare for old age?”
She did not expand on the responses to the consultation, but said there was still time for members of the audience, many of whom represented older people’s groups, to take part in events which are being “stepped up in the next few months”.
The green paper is due for publication in early 2009.
Community Care conference: Backing for Wanless funding model
Have your say in the official consultation via the government’s care and support website