Free personal care set to be election factor

Political parties’ views on free personal care for all
older people are set to be a major factor in people’s voting
decisions during the forthcoming general election, a joint Help the
Aged/MORI poll revealed.

The survey of 1,446 people of all ages shows that 54 per cent of
floating voters could be swayed by the issue of free personal care
for all older people – including essential help such as washing,
dressing, eating and using the toilet.

Fifteen per cent of voters with a preferred political party were
“very likely” to change their vote to support one that promises
free personal care for all older people, and a further 28 per cent
were “fairly likely”.

Sir Stewart Sutherland, chairperson of the Royal Commission on
Long Term Care for the Elderly, said: “This poll sends a clear
message to all parties and particularly those candidates contesting
marginal seats that the issue of long term care is important to the
electorate and cannot be ignored.”

Last week the Conservative Party launched their proposals on
long term care, including a promise that those who save a certain
amount in a long term care fund – around £25,000 – will be
guaranteed state support if their residential care exceeds the
saved amount.

However a Help the Aged spokesperson said: “Neither the
Conservatives nor Labour (in England) have grasped the key point
that long term care is just as vital as life saving hospital
treatment. The new idea from the Conservatives effectively punishes
a sufferer from Alzheimer’s Disease, requiring them to pay up to
£25,000 for their bad luck.”

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to be the only political
party to implement the Sutherland report in its entirety, promising
free personal care for all in any setting.

Meanwhile, results of an opinion poll published this week by the
King’s Fund show that Labour has little public support for its
current policy to ignore the Royal Commission’s recommendation of
free nursing and personal care for all who need it.

The poll, carried out six months after the government published
its response to the commission’s recommendations, reveals that more
than three out of five people believe that personal care should be
provided free to all who need it, regardless of whether that care
is provided in hospital, a residential or nursing home, or in an
individual’s own home.

Even when they were told of the government’s argument that it
would be better to target resources on those on lower incomes than
spread resources more thinly, most still supported universal free
personal care.

Only one out of 10 of those polled thought it was reasonable to
pay the full cost of personal care in a nursing home, while six out
of 10 thought it was unreasonable to pay anything towards the







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