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Agreements for a Clearer Long-Term Care System

Agreements for a Clearer Long-Term Care System

The Caring Choices initiative concludes that the UK needs a new system to pay for long-term care for older people, which combines a clear-cut entitlement to care and support with a sharing of costs between individuals and the state.

The Caring Choices initiative is a nine-month consultation initiative involving over 700 people with experience of the long term care system as users, carers, providers or researchers. It was run by a coalition of 15 organisations with an interest in the long-term care system. Born out of widespread and growing concern that the current system is unsustainable, it encouraged and facilitated debate across England and Scotland through a series of events and an interactive website.

Five areas of broad agreement emerged from the events and a survey completed by event participants and web visitors:

  • The present system of funding long-term care is not fit for purpose. People receiving and providing care alike thought the system was unclear and unfair. In particular they disliked the ‘postcode lottery’ giving very different entitlements to people in different areas and the high degree of means-testing that seems to penalise people who have made provision for their old age.

  • More money will be required to meet growing need. Between 2002 and 2026, the number of older people requiring care is likely to rise by 50 per cent, and costs per head will also rise. Unless the Government increases its own contribution, the extra costs will fall on care users. Already today, some people needing care are not getting the help they need, as local authorities short of cash focus only on those with the most critical conditions.

  • There should be a universal element of long-term care funding. Nine in ten participants supported a system where everyone gets some contribution from the state. Many participants argued for a baseline entitlement available to everyone with care needs, regardless of their income and wealth.

  • Funding of long-term care should be shared between the state and individuals. Only one in five participants believed that personal care should be funded 100% by the state. Most favoured a system of ‘co-payments’ whereby a care package is paid for mainly by the state but with a fixed percentage contribution from the user

  • Better support for unpaid carers is crucial. There was strong resentment about the lack of support for unpaid family carers. Carers and care users emphasised that any effective settlement for long-term care funding needs to involve more generous funding of items such as respite care and Carer’s Allowance.; Source: Age Concern

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