The problem of paying for long-term care for the elderly must involve them being willing to use part of the value of their homes. This was one conclusion reached today (June 7) at the Saga Care Crisis Seminar with Andrew Dilnot, who is heading the independent commission into the funding of care.
Saga Director-General Dr Ros Altmann, who was chairing the meeting, asked if any of the group, who are all leaders in the care industry, believed that home-owning pensioners should not have to pay for care from the value of their houses – and not one disagreed.
But Mr Dilnot, whose report is due out in July, made it clear that he felt there should be a cap on contributions so everyone still had something left over to pass on to their children.
He said it was clear that all three main political parties accepted that it was crucial for there to be a new system of paying for care, the cost of which is set to soar as people live longer.
“What we have at the moment is a nightmare,” he said. “There must be more resources – both public and private.”
There had to be an acceptance that people would have to meet some of the costs themselves but governments also had to accept that the state must be ready to protect people from “catastrophic losses”.
Ros Altmann added: “In a civilised society, the state will have to ultimately pick up the tab.”
She said that the private sector needed to get involved, too, as it was in the provision of pensions.
Among other issues discussed at the seminar were how more older people might be kept in their own homes and how health service money could be better used if it was spent on preventing health problems which resulted in the need for care.
One of the participants, Lord German, called on the provision of care to become a fundamental right. He said a post-code lottery existed at the moment because much of care is funded through local authorities and so how much anyone got depended on the policy of their council.
He added: “We need a system that is national. If it’s a universal system, it will be a universal right. And it should be one of the fundamental rights to receive care.”
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