Funding is not just a problem in social care for the elderly

Published: 12/03/2015

It has recently emerged that less than 15% of councils paid the recommended hourly rate for home care in 2014. Home care often meets clients’ social needs and there have been calls for local authorities to have the resources to pay providers in a manner that meets their legal and social responsibilities. Lee Baker, Head of Care Home Fees reflects on this news and considers the situation for clients with primary health care needs who are being cared for in residential homes.

“Barely a day goes by without there being news about our ageing population and the social changes that this demographic shift is causing. One area that often hits the headlines is care for the elderly, be it in their own home or in a residential facility. Funding is a regular theme of this coverage.

“Commentators have recently highlighted the challenges faced by the home care workforce in the face of underfunding including difficulties with recruitment and staff retention. The Trades Union Congress has reported research suggesting that poor terms and conditions for workers is linked to poorer care for the clients being cared for.

“Funding is also a critical issue when considering the situation for residents in care homes with primary health care needs – but in this environment the issue has a different complexion. That’s because it’s often the case that families are struggling to meet the costs of residential care when they don’t need to – full funding is not means tested but is based on assessments of a person’s health care needs. To secure NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding an assessment is conducted which looks at the totality of the individual’s health care needs.

“For many families caring for an elderly relative it’s a bit of a minefield navigating the system to get their relative the care they need. The process is opaque – when someone needs care it is classed as either a social need or a health care need and each of these is dealt with by a different government department. Anyone seeking NHS funding for a health care need faces a long wait for a review and, once they have a review date then have the prospect of attending a complex assessment meeting to determine whether they have secured funding.

“Our experience is that people faced with this appreciate having some support to navigate such a complicated process – that’s why our service includes, for a fixed fee, the option to have a Nurse Assessor accompany the patient in the assessment as this can reduce the risk of an incorrect assessment being made as any funding hinges on this assessment.”

Content correct at time of publication

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