THE BLOG

The Care Crisis - Telling It as It Is

29/01/2015 15:27 GMT | Updated 31/03/2015 10:59 BST

The care crisis has been well and truly exposed by the BBC in recent days. There is a growing number of older people as we live longer but fewer are getting care and support and spending on care is falling.

The consequences are clear - older people and their families are left picking up the pieces themselves and the care crisis is exacerbating the NHS crisis.

The BBC highlight three particular problems: the care system is horrendously complex and about to get more so; it is massively underfunded; and the government's planned cap on care costs being introduced next year will help very few older people pay for care.

So what can be done?

First, every older person and their family should be able to access advice, information and advocacy to help them through the care maze. This must include specialist financial advice to ensure that people paying for their own care get the right help, as well as telephone and face-to-face advice to talk through their options.

Second, the government should scrap the cap on care costs before it's too late. It will add to the complexity of the system; it is tying local authorities up in knots and it will help only a few older people. I have criticised the cap consistently since it was first proposed and the government's implementation is only making matters worse, see here.

The cap could be replaced by raising the threshold at which people pay for care to £250,000 - the price of the average home in the UK. This would be a lot fairer and much easier for councils to implement.

Third, care needs to be properly funded so that all those who need care and support get the help they need. Many older people are currently missing out or rely on families and friends or struggle to pay themselves. Most support is now crisis care and we need to help older people before they end up in hospital or a care home.

A new care system should be joined up with the NHS to make care and support available in older people's own homes or close to their home wherever they live in the country. If we value older people, we should also value the people who look after them.

With an ageing population, we have to make the funding of care and health a priority. It can be funded through effective taxation of wealth and clamping down on tax avoidance, if government wants to do so.

The BBC should be congratulated for bringing the funding of care to the top of the agenda in the run-up to the election. Now let's see who delivers better care for all.