Free personal care to tempt floating voters

Political parties’ views on free personal care for all older
people could swing voters in the forthcoming General Election, a
Help the Aged/Mori poll reveals.

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, 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 its proposals on
long-term care, including a promise that those who save around
£25,000 in a long-term care fund will be guaranteed state
support if the cost of their care exceeds their fund.

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

Only the Liberal Democrats’ pledge to implement the Sutherland
report in its entirety, promising free personal care for all.

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

The poll, carried out six months after the government responded
to the commission’s recommendations, shows that more than three out
of five people believe 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

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 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 cost.

n Fair Deal for Older People? from 020 7307 2591

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