Improved services win tsar’s blessing

Older people’s tsar Ian Philp has given a positive assessment of
health and social care services for older people and called for
more client-focused services in the future.

Publishing his annual report this week, Philp praised the
government for reducing delayed discharges of older people from
hospital to the point where it could cease to be a “significant
issue for the health service within four years”.

Intermediate care beds and places have more than doubled since
1999, with the number receiving intermediate care almost tripling
in that five-year period. Those receiving more than 10 hours’
intensive home care had also risen by around 8 per cent between
2002 and 2003.

Philp also highlighted the fact that 80 per cent of local
authorities had implemented the single assessment process, where
health and social care professionals jointly assess clients’ needs;
that the number of old age psychiatry consultants had risen by
about 20 per cent; and that more operations for acute conditions
were taking place.

However, he identified mental health services for older people as
particularly needing attention. He said that the “artificial” age
barrier between adult mental health services and those for older
people needed to be scrapped as it could affect access to

“There is a strong tradition in mental health services based around
age determining access but people should receive services according
to need. We want to ensure older people get a fair share of
increased funding in health and social care, but I’m not an
advocate of ringfencing it.”

Philp called for a greater use of direct payments but said this
might not be appropriate for everyone.


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