Independent Age, the older people’s charity, welcomes the call by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank for government to introduce free social care to people over 65.
Independent Age receives thousands of calls each year from people unable to access the social care they need due to a system that is unfair and failing to meet their care needs. Introducing free social care (i.e. free personal care) is a win-win for older people and their families, the NHS and the country as a whole.
The charity also hears throughout its work of the worry and distress that older people and their families face trying to fund the cost of care, with people going into debt, losing their hard-earned savings and in some cases having to sell their house.
A commitment to free social care would drive forward the urgent changes needed to meet the social care needs of older people, bring fairness to social care ending the dementia lottery, better integration of the NHS and social care, bringing savings of £4.5billion to the NHS; and changing the way we value our social care workforce.
The IPPR’s call reinforces Independent Age’s own research, which has shown that free personal care would virtually eliminate the risk of catastrophic care costs that older people and families face (1) and is affordable and popular with the public.
George McNamara, Director of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, commented:
“Older people are unable to get vital home care, afford residential care and are unnecessarily marooned in hospital due to a social care system in crisis. This has become an emergency of successive governments’ own making.
“Making social care free at the point of use, in the same way as the NHS, will not only end the unfair dementia lottery, but ensure older people can thrive and enjoy later life.
“Free social care is affordable and popular with the public. Not only will it bring savings to the NHS and better value for money for the taxpayer, but crucially deliver vital care to older people in their own homes and reduce the need for residential care. Living in our own homes for as long as possible is something that we all want. Free social care delivers this.”