Older people face rationing of services

Older people face increased rationing of key services as a
result of chronic under funding of community care over the last
decade, claims a new study from Help the Aged, writes
Katie Leason.

Changes in policy, such as the withdrawal of the NHS from almost
all long term provision, the redefinition of nursing care, and
changes in capital limits for residential and nursing care have put
additional demands on local authorities and led to a
disproportionate allocation of resources going into hospital care
at the expense of social care, the charity claims.

Gail Elkington, policy officer at Help the Aged, said: “Funding
has simply not kept pace with need, and this is having disastrous
consequences for older people.

“It is recognised that prevention is a key principle of social
care.Yet more and more people are facing barriers, rationing,
uncertainty and long delays.We urgently need to see this chronic
inadequacy in funding addressed in the Chancellor’s
forthcoming comprehensive spending review.”

‘Nothing Personal’ shows that following central government
guidance, social services departments have targeted their resources
on those assessed as most in need of support, with the budget
determining whether those with less urgent needs receive help.

While local authorities were found to be contracting with the
independent sector to supply home and residential care in order to
reduce costs, this appeared to be opening a gap in the quality of
care as independent providers tried to manage with the lower fees
offered by local authorities.

The report shows that fewer people are being supported at home
but that they are receiving substantial packages of care, while
low-level services such as cleaning, laundry, and gardening have
been cut back.

The report, carried out by Nuffield Community Care Studies Unit
at the University of Leicester, and financed by the Community Fund,
looks at the policies and practices of six local authorities across
England and Wales and is based on interviews with social services
departments, voluntary sector and independent providers of care
services, older people and their carers.

‘Nothing Personal: rationing social care for older people’
from 020 7239 1940.



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