Care Minister hints at further changes to the elderly care system

The Care Minister, Norman Lamb, has hinted that further changes to the elderly care system may be on the cards in addition to the current sweeping reforms.

Charities have warned that as the Care Bill currently stands, hundreds of thousands of elderly frail people deemed not ‘sick enough’ to qualify for care could miss out on state-funded care.  However, it has been suggested that they could still qualify for state-funded help following new plans being considered by ministers.

Following recommendations from the Dilnot Report, the reforms intend to introduce a notional cap of £72,000 on the amount individuals should have to pay towards care in their lifetime.  A new standardised test determining whether people are frail enough to qualify for care will put an end to the current “postcode lottery”.

Mr Lamb said “We need to have a threshold in place for the new Bill but I have also asked officials, and officials are indeed working on whether we can develop a more sophisticated approach.  This is not something… that you can do overnight but I am keen to find other ways of encouraging the idea of providing some support earlier on, I don’t ultimately want a system which says ‘you are not sick enough, go away and get sicker and them we might help you.’”

He added that a new legal duty being introduced in the Bill requiring councils to actively prevent ill health could make a difference.

Charity Director of Age UK, Caroline Abrahams has said “Shifting the focus to prevent health problems before they become a crisis makes good sense for everyone.  It can give a person a better quality of life and saves money.  However frontline cuts are leaving older people struggling on alone whilst living with chronic illness and disability.  Our worry is that unless there is adequate funding in place more and more people who need help will continue to find themselves in a desperate situation.”

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