The Conservatives have set out their key priorities for adult social care should they win the next election, including a pledge to legislate on insuring people against care home costs.
The party announced yesterday it would produce a white paper, followed by legislation, to set up a home protection scheme, under which people would be able to pay a one-off fee on retirement – estimated to be £8,000 – and have their care home costs covered.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley announced the plan at the party’s annual conference last month, saying it would prevent people from having to sell their homes to pay for care.
The plan sparked criticisms from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services that the Tories were focusing on residential care at the expense of home-based support.
However, yesterday’s announcement included plans to help people stay in their own homes for as long as possible, so that fewer people would need residential care.
The party plans to introduce pilot schemes based on successful projects around the country, in areas including telecare, telemedicine, home adaptations and schemes to build patients’ ability to look after themselves after being in hospital. These would then be rolled out nationwide.
It also reiterated plans to roll-out personal budgets combining health and social care funding for people with long-term conditions.
This goes beyond the government’s current plans to pilot personal health budgets, under which social care and health personal budgets would be paid out separately to service users, and then separately audited.
The Tories’ pledges on social care came as it announced its priorities for a future “department of public health” – its proposed replacement for the current Department of Health.
However, in an accompanying speech to the Royal College of Pathologists yesterday, party leader David Cameron set out the party’s vision for the NHS alone and did not mention social care.