The government must end councils’ role in determining eligibility and entitlement to adult social care and create a national system for England, the Right care, Right deal coalition said today.
The call from the coalition – comprising Carers UK, Counsel and Care and Help the Aged – came as the Department of Health revealed strong public support for a national system had come through in its six-month public engagement process on the future of adult care, which ends this week.
The process will inform a green paper on long-term reform to the system in England next year.
Right care, Right deal said it was inequitable that people in neighbouring areas should face different eligibility criteria and charges for care, as happens currently. In a briefing paper, the coalition rejected the idea that councils’ ability to determine access to care had enabled them to tailor services to local needs.
It said: “The reality of our overstretched service is that this tailoring is a myth – and most councils can do little more than provide the essentials to those in the most dire of need.”
The coalition called for an adult social care system akin to NHS continuing care, where eligibility, since last year, has been determined nationally. It said the Care Quality Commission, which will start regulating adult care next April, should have a role in monitoring consistency of entitlement across the country.
Over the past six months, the DH has held nine stakeholder events and five public events to debate the future of the care system, attended by around 900 people in total, the last of which was on Saturday.
David Behan, the DH’s director general of social care, said: “People do feel that there should be consistency which is not influenced by where you live. And that features quite strongly in the way people are beginning to respond.”
Paul Cann, director of policy and external relations at Help the Aged, said a national system would ensure people would be clear what their entitlement to care would be, should the need arise, “and could plan their financial and other arrangements accordingly”.
The coalition said that without such clarity it would be “impossible to communicate clearly the role of the individual in funding their own care”, and “impossible for the financial services to develop products to support individual contributions”.