Dianne Jeffrey explains priorities of merged older people’s charity

Social care will be a “big priority” for the charity formed next year by the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged, its chair has said.

Dianne Jeffrey, appointed in September, told Community Care she wanted it to tackle issues including care quality, access, under-investment in prevention and unfair funding.

She attacked council-commissioned 15-minute home-care appointments as “untenable” and said relatives should no longer be forced to pay top-up fees to secure a publicly funded care home place for loved ones.

Campaigning differences

Age Concern and Help the Aged campaign strongly on social care, but with different emphases. Help the Aged is bidding to shape next year’s green paper on future funding as part of the Right care, Right deal coalition, with Counsel and Care and Carers UK. Age Concern has focused on under-funding, care quality and access to NHS continuing care.

Jeffrey, formerly chair of care and housing provider the Anchor Trust, said the new charity, which is yet to be named, would be a “bigger and much more powerful organisation” than its predecessors. She added: “We’ve got a degree of increasing duplication between the two charities and a deal of confusion among the public. [The merger] is a no-brainer.”

Merger throughout UK

Separate merged charities will also be set up in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Jeffrey said the relationships between the four organisations were now being decided.

She expected the “vast majority” of independent local Age Concerns to become partners in the new charity, which would allow them to carry its brand.

Jeffrey welcomed the recent appointment of chief executive Tom Wright, who will take up his post in January.

She said he would unveil “an exciting vision” for the new charity and had great empathy with older people.

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