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Archive for February, 2011

Thousands more will have to sell homes for elderly care

As reported in the Daily Telegraph today:

Thousands more elderly people will be forced to pay to stay in care homes as a result of unannounced cuts in funding. Ministers are effectively reducing the level of savings above which pensioners must meet their own fees, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

 A survey last year said that average care home fees were now more than £25,000 a year.  

 
A Whitehall document shows that the reduction has been imposed to “raise additional revenue” and will have an “impact” on older people and their families.

It means that more will be dragged over the means-test threshold for care home charges and will have to pay full fees, typically more than £500 a week.

That will raise fears of greater numbers being forced to sell their homes to fund residential care in old age. Charities said the decision would hurt the vulnerable and cause “considerable distress”.

Around 250,000 people aged over 65 are estimated to be funded by councils in residential care homes, and the figure is forecast to grow steadily in the coming decades. Charges are based on a means test, under which anyone with savings and assets, including a house, worth more than £23,250 must pay the full fees.

A survey last year said that average care home fees were now more than £25,000 a year. In the Home Counties, they frequently exceeded £45,000.

Anyone with assets above the threshold must pay full fees until their value has been reduced below the limit, when councils pick up some of the cost. That can quickly reduce the savings of older people who have passed on houses and other assets to their children as a tax-planning precaution against death duties.

Normally, the threshold increases each year to take account of inflation and rising values of assets such as houses. Ten years ago, it was £18,500.

But the Coalition has quietly decided to freeze the limit for at least two years. The move is likely to amount to a real-terms cut in the threshold of almost 10 per cent. A lower capital limit of £14,250 – above which councils pay part of the fees – has also been frozen. The decision was disclosed in a Department of Health document.

Dated Jan 28, it makes clear that the move is to raise more money from elderly people. “In the context of the Spending Review 2010, ministers have taken the decision not to increase the capital limits,” it says.

“The intention is to help protect the level and quality of social care services by enabling local authorities to raise additional revenue to pay for these services, from residential care charges.”

The capital limits will not be reviewed until the next local government finance settlement in the autumn of 2012, the document says.

In the meantime, the department will “monitor the impact of not increasing the capital limits on care home residents and their families, and on local authority budgets”.

An estimated 100,000 people in residential care finance themselves. Up to 20,000 pensioners a year are estimated to have to sell their homes to do so.

The Department of Health said freezing the threshold “will only result in most residents having to pay for about one additional week of care” – around £500.

Michelle Mitchell, the charity director at Age UK, said the decision would “cause many to wonder whether the Government thinks older people are immune to the recession or the effects of inflation”. She said: “This is a measure that is once again hitting the most vulnerable and is certain to cause considerable distress.”

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats fought the election promising new rules that would prevent people having to sell homes to fund care.

In the House of Commons yesterday, David Cameron was challenged over the rising costs, and insisted the Coalition was acting to help older people. “Far from cutting the money that is going into social care, we have increased by £2?billion the money going into adult social care because we know how important it is,” the Prime Minister told MPs.

The Telegraph yesterday reported comments by Lord Warner, part of a commission reviewing long-term care, suggesting that middle-class baby-boomers should expect to sell their homes to fund care in later life.

The Department of Health said the freeze in the capital limit was “unfortunate” but necessary “in light of the current economic situation”.

Our comment: In many ways those who can afford to pay for their own care are the lucky ones, as they have a real choice about what care home they will join. With the current shamefull level of state care funding, those who cannot afford to pay for their own care will increasingly have their choices limited and have to accept a more basic level of care. We are inevitably moving to a two-tier care system.

 

Happy valentines day!

Three wards for mentally ill in Devon set to close

As reported by the BBC today

Three wards for mentally ill patients, including some with dementia, could be closed in Devon and care switched to people’s homes.

The Devon Partnership Trust (DPT) wants to redistribute money for hospital care in the community to cope with increasing numbers of patients.

But the move has been criticised by Alzheimer’s disease campaigners.

But the DPT says its eight wards, which care for 8% of patients, take up about 70% of the psychiatric services budget.

‘Safety net’

Dr David Somerfield, co-medical director of the DPT, said: “It is very difficult to justify the number of beds we have.

“If we have better resources to support people earlier then we are not going to need so many in-patient beds.

“By and large patients and carers want to stay at home for as long as possible.”

The change is part of a review of services in response to the national dementia strategy launched in 2009.

The DPT estimates that more than 17,000 Devon people will have dementia by 2021, up from 12,000 in 2009.

Andy Mack, chairman of Exmouth Alzheimers Society, said: “They are taking money out of the hospitals to put into the community and are taking away the safety net.

“They are taking out of one pot to put in another pot and trying to spread the money as evenly as they can.”

The DPT said the shift in emphasis from inpatient care to community care had been under way in Devon, and across England, for several years and would continue.

Our comment: Hospitals are terrible places for people with dementia. The poor design of the buildings and the lack of person-centred care means that people with dementia invariably leave a hospital ward in a poorer mental state than when they went in. Other than for the treatment of acute physical conditions, people with dementia should not be in hospital. Closing long-term hospital dementia wards makes sense, BUT ONLY IF THERE IS ADEQUATE PROVISION IN THE COMMUNITY. The shameful levels of funding for such community-based provision is deterring operators to invest in new dementia services. Until this changes, things will get worse for people with dementia in Devon. 

The second bathroom to roll off the production line….

This is the second bathroom refitted and redecorated this month by Ian the Builder.

 

Click here to find out why we are redecorating our bathrooms.

An impromptu trip to the beach

 
 
 

At Orcombe point

In the Rosemobile

At the River Otter Estuary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The plan was to have a cup of coffee at Trinity Church. However our ladies decided they would like to go to the beach at Exmouth and Budleigh! In dementia care one has to be flexible and go with the flow sometimes….

 The trip triggered nice memories of a happy childhood spent in Budleigh Salterton for one of the ladies, and they both came back very animated and happy. We are very fortunate to live on the doorstep of so much beautiful countryside here.

The smiling gentleman is Phil, our maintenance man and de-facto Rosemobile driver. Alice, our activities coordinator, took the pictures.

Now that he weather is improving we’ll make this a weekly fixture in our activities programme.