Time to talk about funding
I was recently asked to consider writing to my Local Authority to respectfully ask them to reconsider their responsibilities under the Care Act, and consequently to increase their fee rates for homecare work.
For me, there is an obvious and predictable direct link between inadequate pay rates and poor quality care. A high percentage of public sector savings are being made at the expense of vulnerable elderly people. This is clearly wrong, but I do not believe that asking the Government to allocate more money to Local Authorities for care will solve this crisis.
Local Authorities have already taken choices over where to allocate funds and clearly they have failed to prioritise elderly care. Cynically, I fear that even if the money was “ring-fenced for social care” the percentage of funds that ended up actually spent on elderly care would not make a significant difference. Social Services Directors would still line up to justify flying 15 minute (or less!) visits and select providers solely on price without reference to quality of care.
But there is another reason why I don’t support asking the Government for more money. That is because I believe that this type of initiative reinforces the misconception that homecare can be defined as that type of service funded by Social Services. It clearly isn’t! Homecare needs are not mitigated by a nominal line in the sand drawn at assets of £23,500. Elderly with more than this figure still need care and still want to remain at home!
Sadly, Halcyon Home Care have experienced more than one exhausted 85+ year old who has been abandoned by the system. After “failing” the financial evaluation, they were left to contact and arrange care (normally from an out of date list of providers) for their spouses at a time of extreme emotional distress. They call us without any understanding or experience, uncertain what it will cost or where they will find the funds, or even what service to expect. Simply, they need someone to assist them through the process.
I believe a lack of understanding of the scope of who might be affected and the costs involved is one of the key reasons that the crisis in homecare has been allowed to develop. Too many people think it isn’t going to affect them and if it does, then, social services will look after them. By the time they find out the truth it is too late.
If things don’t change it will only get worse and the scale of the failings of the system will become a catastrophe in our own society. We do need a discussion about funding… and one part is about social services funding … but the bigger debate is about funding for care for all our elderly regardless of the £23,500 assets cap… and it needs to happen now!