by Bronagh Miskelly, editor, Community Care
As the Department of Health’s “engagement process” on the adult social care green paper draws to a close, we learn just how little the public know about the care system. Rather than see this as a problem, ministers should use the opportunity to introduce radical change on the basis that most of the public will only recognise a few key terms.
One of these, “ending the postcode lottery,” is top of the agenda for interest groups. In this issue we report on recommendations from the Hampshire Council commission of inquiry and the Right care, Right deal campaign. Both call for a national system for measuring eligibility for social care “regardless of the level of need presented or the wealth of individuals”.
Hampshire goes further and outlines a full set of reforms that incorporate the ideals of personalisation with a move away from “charging” for care to one where people are means-tested to set their “contribution” to an individual budget. This move has the potential to be cost neutral but other proposals such as free emergency care and an increase in the level at which savings are considered in means-testing will have cost implications. But the Resolution Foundation think tank has suggested a range of fundraising options.
The green paper is not due until next year but it seems that these reports are already providing a framework for policy. This is one task that cannot be put off delaying reform will only make the long-term funding problems greater. There is an opportunity to create a fairer system and tackle the funding deficit, but that means moving quickly and educating the public.