All older people should have the right to an assessment and advice in navigating care services, regardless of their means or needs, as part of any reform to the system.
That was the message from think-tank the Resolution Foundation today in a report designed to inform the government’s reform of the care and support system and its funding, ahead of a green paper due early next year.
Its proposals are designed to address the particular concerns of “low earners” – those on below average incomes who are not dependent on state benefits – who the think-tank said were ill-served by the current system.
Ineligible for state care
Many fell above the means-test threshold for state-funded care, leaving them with costly bills, and though they often owned their own homes, they struggled to tap this wealth to pay for care, because of the real and perceived inaccessibility of equity release products.
The foundation also said this group tended to find the care system overly complex and difficult to navigate and saw local variability in entitlements to care as unfair.
It said all older people and their carers should have access to regular holistic assessments of their care and well-being needs and advice on how to meet them from a new navigation service, which would provide telephone, online and outreach support.
The report, Navigating the way, said: “Armed with a care and well-being assessment, and advice from the navigation service, an older person would enter the care system with the knowledge and confidence required to make them a more effective “consumer” of care and support services.”
The think-tank joined others – including the Right care, Right deal coalition of Carers UK, Counsel and Care and Help the Aged – in backing a national minimum entitlement to services to replace the current local discretion granted councils.
Those who met nationally agreed needs and means tests would have state-funded care, while the state should foster a range of affordable financial products to help those deemed ineligible for public funding, the foundation said.
It said the proportion of service users who should be eligible for state support was a political decision based on the public’s willingness to fund social care through the tax system. However, it said the government needed to make a clear statement about the balance between individual and collective contributions to care funding.