Now the elderly will get equal rights?


Now the elderly will get equal rights

Radical initiatives will benefit all older people

Ivan Lewis
Sunday June 24, 2007
The Observer

As The Observer is rightly highlighting, there are few more important challenges than the way society treats older people. The realities of demographic change, the expectations of the ‘baby boomers’ and the values of a progressive centre-left government are all reasons why this issue must move from the margins to the mainstream of the government and public policy debate.
It is true that our investment in the NHS, social care, specialist housing and what is called ‘telecare’ - for example, alarms or motion sensors being fitted to a person’s home to warn a warden that they have fallen - has made a real difference. More people than ever are able to remain in their own homes.

Equally, demographic pressures and a largely unreformed social care system are leaving too many older people with inadequate support. The quality of provision is patchy from service to service and area to area. People who pay for their own care are frequently left alone to make difficult choices and eligibility criteria take little account of loneliness and isolation. The current system was built in a postwar era when Alzheimer’s disease, elderly carers, scattered families and elder abuse were unknown forces. Today, 70 is the new 50. Older people view post-retirement as the next stage in their life; many grandparents are surrogate parents to their grandchildren; medical advances and greater affluence will continue to extend life.
This week, I will be launching a new national framework for the funding of continuing care, the intensive, long-term nursing care for the elderly outside hospitals, mainly in nursing homes. This will seek to end the current postcode lottery that has seen some older people wrongly denied NHS funding for the nursing element of their care.

This is only the beginning of a long-term change programme. Today, I am setting out a five-point transformation plan for debate and comment, a new social care system for a new age.

First, funding. We need to develop a new funding regime that redefines the respective responsibilities of government, the family and the individual. Unlike the NHS, social care has always been means-tested and this will not change. Fairness, sustainability and, at the very least, information, advice and guidance to people who fund their own care should be the foundations of a new settlement.

Second, there should be one Health and Wellbeing Service. The local authority and local NHS primary-care trusts in every community need to commission and provide services in partnership with the voluntary and private sectors in an integrated way. This will require a redirection of resources from acute hospital provision to intermediate care and community-based services.

Third, People Power. Older people and their families should have individual budgets that they direct and, where possible, control. Excessive assessment should be replaced by a greater use of self-assessment, freeing up social workers to facilitate, advocate and navigate. If an older person wants their funding to pay for gardening or cleaning rather than a daily 15-minute home care visit, then that choice should be respected. Others may want quality time with a carer of their choice.

Fourth, community networks, led by the voluntary sector and faith groups, should be supported to deploy volunteers and ‘good neighbours’ to tackle loneliness and social isolation. It is not the state’s job to provide befrienders, but it is the duty of any community that has a right to the description ‘civilised’.

Fifth, we want older people to be valued as active citizens, mentoring and acting as role models to young people and, likewise, young people to be supported to befriend and ‘adopt’ older people.


Dated 2007. I’m all in favour, but proposals still haven’t happened.

I have read so many of these initiatives for the elderly, for the disabled, for unpaid carers but nothing ever changes.

They produce pages and pages of we will do this and we will do that , but its all done in London and doesn’t filter down, the money isn’t enough, there isn’t enough staff.

You quote some NHS guidance and often its never heard of it, we don’t have to do it, it’s not coming out til next year.

10 years later nothing has happened.

thanks my issue has been fixed.