Headlines: September 2nd, 2008

Local councils are facing a call to find new ways to ensure that most older people do not miss out on moves towards ‘person-centred care’. Figures today from the national charity, Counsel and Care, show the cost of care at home for older people is rising rapidly and is up to 18 pounds an hour in one case.

Today’s figures show the average hourly charge for council care services is 12.84 pounds compared to just over 11 pounds an hour a year ago, an increase of 16 per cent. The lowest charge by any of the councils which responded was 8.20 pounds and the highest was 18 pounds. The maximum weekly charge across all respondents is now just over 256 pounds, a rise of more than 70 pounds on the previous year’s figure. For residential care, the average standard rate paid by local authorities has reached more than 407 pounds a week, up by 28 pounds in then past year.

The survey found that more than two thirds of local councils considered an older person eligible to receive services only if they had ‘critical’ or ‘substantial’ needs. In three cases councils reported that they provided support only for those with the most acute, critical needs. In today’s report, “Care Contradictions: putting people first?”, the charity says the move towards person-centred care will be a revolution for the few, not the many and that even where an older person’s needs are such that they are eligible for services, the costs are becoming unaffordable.

Stephen Burke, Counsel and Care’s Chief Executive, said a review of home care charging, and its impact on the lives of older people and their carers should be a priority. He added, “We call on councils to be brave and challenge existing practices with innovative new ways forward to ensure that the transformation agenda is not simply rhetoric, but makes a real difference to the reality of the lives of older people, their families and carers.”