Publication Date : Friday 24 October 2014 10:26
340,000 elderly will be denied care in new cuts: Vital help to be restricted to those who need assistance with two or more tasks
Vital help for elderly people will be restricted to only those who need help with two tasks or more, the Government said last night.
Councils have been told to provide home helps and other assistance only if people are unable to complete two or more essential daily tasks.
If they are unable to do only one of the 10 appointed tasks they should receive no help from their council – meaning they would have to pay for care themselves or do without it.
Charities said as many as 340,000 who need help would fail to get it under the new rules. Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said the future looked ‘bleak’ for older people.
‘Every day there is another horror story of an older person failed by the system and sadly things will not improve until the social care funding gap is filled', she said.
'Politicians in every party need to recognise this and commit to action as an urgent priority.’
The ten activities listed are: managing and maintaining nutrition, maintaining personal hygiene, managing toilet needs, being appropriately clothed, being able to make use of their home safely, maintaining a habitable home environment, maintaining family or other personal relationships, accessing work, using public transport, and looking after a child.
Under the present system, most councils restrict care to those with ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’ needs – meaning they are at risk of ending up in hospital without care.
The Coalition’s new ‘national eligibility criteria’ – a minimum threshold of care that councils have to provide – says the elderly should get care if their needs arise from a physical or mental impairment, if they are unable to achieve two or more activities, and if this failure is likely to have a ‘significant impact on wellbeing’.
Richard Hawkes, chairman of the Care and Support Alliance, said: ‘The Care Act will only live up to its promise of a genuinely preventative system that promotes wellbeing, if the government re-thinks its plans to exclude so many older and disabled people from the system.
‘Setting a high threshold for the care system is a bit like going to the doctor with a chest infection and being told to come back with pneumonia.
‘Every day, our 76 organisations hear horror stories of older and disabled people who struggle to get the support they need to simply get up, get dressed and get out of the house.
‘The only long-term solution to the care crisis is an increase in funding, and – as the Barker Commission experts rightly argue – as a country we can afford it. In fact we can’t afford not to.’
Neil Duncan-Jordan, from the National Pensioners Convention, said: ‘People were expecting a better deal from the Coalition after all the promises. Many older people and their families will be very angry and disappointed about this.‘This isn’t about improving services and looking after people who desperately need support.
‘The whole thing is a con. The Coalition said they were going to fix social care but they’re making things worse. They’re cutting money from social care, so they’re restricting eligibility. It’s cynical.’
A Department of Health spokesman said the new rules were designed to be the same as the ‘substantial’ threshold.
‘Helping people to live independently and prevent them from becoming ill is what people want and is a better use of our resources,’ she said.
‘The Care Act and our £3.8billion Better Care Fund will focus on keeping people well, which can save money and prevent people needing more support.
'We are clear that people, whatever their level of need, will receive help from their council to get support and information.’
She added officials had asked the Care and Support Alliance to come up with examples of people who only had one care need – and they could not come up with one.