The ‘Grey Pound’ Care Revolution

 The “Grey Pound” Care Revolution
 Clare Kirkman
 Perfect Publishers
 ISBN 1 905 399 12 X,

 Star rating: 2/5

This book does not lack ambition, writes Don Rhodes. It seeks to “help (older people) revolutionise the future of care services in England”.

This is to be achieved by providing older people with the information needed to be assertive consumers, savvy about the system and how it can be made to work for them.

This is a formidable task, given the increasing complexity of the care system and that their first encounter with it often arises during some personal crisis.

There are two main reasons why the book falls short of this aim. Firstly, it is wrong to assume that the collective strength of the “grey pound” translates automatically into purchasing power for individual consumers.

The care market does not currently work like that. Only 28% of the organisations that Clare Kirkman’s mystery shopper approached for information bothered to respond. This illustrates the power imbalance that individual consumers face.

Secondly, it would take a clearer book than this to redress that imbalance. This book is a pretty tough read. It needed more thought to style and layout. The complex issues involved could have been made more accessible with less repetition, more headings, graphics, summaries and checklists to help the older person get beneath providers’ marketing blurb.

There are also some omissions. Direct payments and extra care housing are not extensively covered. Social workers are omitted from the chapter The Role of Professionals but aromatherapists are included. There are individual pieces of good advice, but too often these are lost in a somewhat discursive survey of the issues.

Much as the promised revolution in elder care is needed, I do not believe this book is the spark.

Don Rhodes is a consultant and author of a report for the Department of Health on the use of information in social care



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