Tag Archives: Care

NHS faces staggering increase in cost of elderly care, academics warn

The NHS and social care system in the UK is facing a staggering increase in the cost of looking after elderly people within the next few years, according to major new research which shows a 25% increase in those who will need care between 2015 and 2025.

Within eight years, there will be 2.8 million people over 65 needing nursing and social care, unable to cope alone, says the research – largely because of the toll of dementia in a growing elderly population. The research, published by the respected Lancet Public Health medical journal, says cases of disability related to dementia will rise by 40% among people aged 65 to 84, with other forms of disability increasing by about 31%.

The new figures follow a furore over the Conservative manifesto and Theresa May’s U-turn on social care this week. In a bid to keep the costs of care down, the manifesto said those needing care at home would have to pay until they had £100,000 in savings left, including the cost of their home.

After accusations that the Conservatives were imposing a “dementia tax”, May promised a cap on the amount any person would pay for care – although without specifying what the cap would be.

The new analysis will make grim reading for whichever party gains power. “The societal, economic and public health implications of our forecast are substantial,” say the researchers, led by academics from the University of Liverpool and University College London.

“Public and private expenditure on long-term care will need to increase considerably by 2025, in view of the predicted 25% rise in the number of people who will have age-related disability. This situation has serious implications for a cash-strapped and overburdened National Health Service and an under-resourced social care system,” they added.

The figures take account for the first time of the changing disease burden as well as the increasing elderly population and longer life expectancy. Cardiovascular disease, which can cause heart attacks and strokes, has gone down, but dementia is rising as people live longer. This makes the research an advance on previous studies, says Professor Stuart Gilmour of the department of global health policy at the University of Tokyo in a commentary published alongside the paper.

“The results show starkly the growing burden of disability that the UK National Health Service and social care system will face over the next decade,” he writes.

“[It] faces a rapid increase in the number of elderly people with disabilities … at a time when it is uniquely unprepared for even the existing burden of disability in the UK population. This important research should be taken as a warning and a strong call for action on health service planning and funding, workforce training and retention, and preparation for the ageing of British society.”

The government urgently needs to consider the options, says the paper. Firstly, more care homes are needed, it says. Secondly, there must be more support for informal and home care – they suggest tax allowances or cash benefits. “Affected individuals and their families pay an estimated 40% of the national cost of long-term care from income and savings,” they write.

But prevention is also vital. Poor diet, smoking, drinking heavily, high blood pressure, diabetes and little physical activity are risk factors for both heart disease and dementia, they say. Immediate investment in improving people’s lifestyles would pay dividends, they say. “We seriously need to protect the future of older citizens through prevention,” said lead author Dr Maria Guzman-Castillo of the University of Liverpool.

She said political parties had not so far been looking at the true scale of the crisis to come. “We think they are not looking at this. There is a gap between the academic community and the government,” she said.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said more investment in the NHS and social care was desperately needed. “It’s a great testament to medical research, and the NHS, that we are living longer – but we need to ensure that our patients are living longer with a good quality of life. For this to happen we need a properly funded, properly staffed health and social care sector with general practice, hospitals and social care all working together – and all communicating well with each other, in the best interests of delivering safe care to all our patients.”

Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “As most people expect to need some form of care in their lifetime, there is an urgent need for the whole country to consider how best to ensure people with care needs are funded and how their care is delivered.

“The need to future-proof adult social care should be a national priority for the new government. Unless a long-term sustainable solution is established to tackle significant sector pressures, a rising number of elderly and disabled people living longer and with increasingly complex needs, along with their families, will struggle to receive the personal, dignified care they depend on and deserve.”

NHS faces staggering increase in cost of elderly care, academics warn

The NHS and social care system in the UK is facing a staggering increase in the cost of looking after elderly people within the next few years, according to major new research which shows a 25% increase in those who will need care between 2015 and 2025.

Within eight years, there will be 2.8 million people over 65 needing nursing and social care, unable to cope alone, says the research – largely because of the toll of dementia in a growing elderly population. The research, published by the respected Lancet Public Health medical journal, says cases of disability related to dementia will rise by 40% among people aged 65 to 84, with other forms of disability increasing by about 31%.

The new figures follow a furore over the Conservative manifesto and Theresa May’s U-turn on social care this week. In a bid to keep the costs of care down, the manifesto said those needing care at home would have to pay until they had £100,000 in savings left, including the cost of their home.

After accusations that the Conservatives were imposing a “dementia tax”, May promised a cap on the amount any person would pay for care – although without specifying what the cap would be.

The new analysis will make grim reading for whichever party gains power. “The societal, economic and public health implications of our forecast are substantial,” say the researchers, led by academics from the University of Liverpool and University College London.

“Public and private expenditure on long-term care will need to increase considerably by 2025, in view of the predicted 25% rise in the number of people who will have age-related disability. This situation has serious implications for a cash-strapped and overburdened National Health Service and an under-resourced social care system,” they added.

The figures take account for the first time of the changing disease burden as well as the increasing elderly population and longer life expectancy. Cardiovascular disease, which can cause heart attacks and strokes, has gone down, but dementia is rising as people live longer. This makes the research an advance on previous studies, says Professor Stuart Gilmour of the department of global health policy at the University of Tokyo in a commentary published alongside the paper.

“The results show starkly the growing burden of disability that the UK National Health Service and social care system will face over the next decade,” he writes.

“[It] faces a rapid increase in the number of elderly people with disabilities … at a time when it is uniquely unprepared for even the existing burden of disability in the UK population. This important research should be taken as a warning and a strong call for action on health service planning and funding, workforce training and retention, and preparation for the ageing of British society.”

The government urgently needs to consider the options, says the paper. Firstly, more care homes are needed, it says. Secondly, there must be more support for informal and home care – they suggest tax allowances or cash benefits. “Affected individuals and their families pay an estimated 40% of the national cost of long-term care from income and savings,” they write.

But prevention is also vital. Poor diet, smoking, drinking heavily, high blood pressure, diabetes and little physical activity are risk factors for both heart disease and dementia, they say. Immediate investment in improving people’s lifestyles would pay dividends, they say. “We seriously need to protect the future of older citizens through prevention,” said lead author Dr Maria Guzman-Castillo of the University of Liverpool.

She said political parties had not so far been looking at the true scale of the crisis to come. “We think they are not looking at this. There is a gap between the academic community and the government,” she said.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said more investment in the NHS and social care was desperately needed. “It’s a great testament to medical research, and the NHS, that we are living longer – but we need to ensure that our patients are living longer with a good quality of life. For this to happen we need a properly funded, properly staffed health and social care sector with general practice, hospitals and social care all working together – and all communicating well with each other, in the best interests of delivering safe care to all our patients.”

Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “As most people expect to need some form of care in their lifetime, there is an urgent need for the whole country to consider how best to ensure people with care needs are funded and how their care is delivered.

“The need to future-proof adult social care should be a national priority for the new government. Unless a long-term sustainable solution is established to tackle significant sector pressures, a rising number of elderly and disabled people living longer and with increasingly complex needs, along with their families, will struggle to receive the personal, dignified care they depend on and deserve.”

NHS faces staggering increase in cost of elderly care, academics warn

The NHS and social care system in the UK is facing a staggering increase in the cost of looking after elderly people within the next few years, according to major new research which shows a 25% increase in those who will need care between 2015 and 2025.

Within eight years, there will be 2.8 million people over 65 needing nursing and social care, unable to cope alone, says the research – largely because of the toll of dementia in a growing elderly population. The research, published by the respected Lancet Public Health medical journal, says cases of disability related to dementia will rise by 40% among people aged 65 to 84, with other forms of disability increasing by about 31%.

The new figures follow a furore over the Conservative manifesto and Theresa May’s U-turn on social care this week. In a bid to keep the costs of care down, the manifesto said those needing care at home would have to pay until they had £100,000 in savings left, including the cost of their home.

After accusations that the Conservatives were imposing a “dementia tax”, May promised a cap on the amount any person would pay for care – although without specifying what the cap would be.

The new analysis will make grim reading for whichever party gains power. “The societal, economic and public health implications of our forecast are substantial,” say the researchers, led by academics from the University of Liverpool and University College London.

“Public and private expenditure on long-term care will need to increase considerably by 2025, in view of the predicted 25% rise in the number of people who will have age-related disability. This situation has serious implications for a cash-strapped and overburdened National Health Service and an under-resourced social care system,” they added.

The figures take account for the first time of the changing disease burden as well as the increasing elderly population and longer life expectancy. Cardiovascular disease, which can cause heart attacks and strokes, has gone down, but dementia is rising as people live longer. This makes the research an advance on previous studies, says Professor Stuart Gilmour of the department of global health policy at the University of Tokyo in a commentary published alongside the paper.

“The results show starkly the growing burden of disability that the UK National Health Service and social care system will face over the next decade,” he writes.

“[It] faces a rapid increase in the number of elderly people with disabilities … at a time when it is uniquely unprepared for even the existing burden of disability in the UK population. This important research should be taken as a warning and a strong call for action on health service planning and funding, workforce training and retention, and preparation for the ageing of British society.”

The government urgently needs to consider the options, says the paper. Firstly, more care homes are needed, it says. Secondly, there must be more support for informal and home care – they suggest tax allowances or cash benefits. “Affected individuals and their families pay an estimated 40% of the national cost of long-term care from income and savings,” they write.

But prevention is also vital. Poor diet, smoking, drinking heavily, high blood pressure, diabetes and little physical activity are risk factors for both heart disease and dementia, they say. Immediate investment in improving people’s lifestyles would pay dividends, they say. “We seriously need to protect the future of older citizens through prevention,” said lead author Dr Maria Guzman-Castillo of the University of Liverpool.

She said political parties had not so far been looking at the true scale of the crisis to come. “We think they are not looking at this. There is a gap between the academic community and the government,” she said.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said more investment in the NHS and social care was desperately needed. “It’s a great testament to medical research, and the NHS, that we are living longer – but we need to ensure that our patients are living longer with a good quality of life. For this to happen we need a properly funded, properly staffed health and social care sector with general practice, hospitals and social care all working together – and all communicating well with each other, in the best interests of delivering safe care to all our patients.”

Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “As most people expect to need some form of care in their lifetime, there is an urgent need for the whole country to consider how best to ensure people with care needs are funded and how their care is delivered.

“The need to future-proof adult social care should be a national priority for the new government. Unless a long-term sustainable solution is established to tackle significant sector pressures, a rising number of elderly and disabled people living longer and with increasingly complex needs, along with their families, will struggle to receive the personal, dignified care they depend on and deserve.”

NHS faces staggering increase in cost of elderly care, academics warn

The NHS and social care system in the UK is facing a staggering increase in the cost of looking after elderly people within the next few years, according to major new research which shows a 25% increase in those who will need care between 2015 and 2025.

Within eight years, there will be 2.8 million people over 65 needing nursing and social care, unable to cope alone, says the research – largely because of the toll of dementia in a growing elderly population. The research, published by the respected Lancet Public Health medical journal, says cases of disability related to dementia will rise by 40% among people aged 65 to 84, with other forms of disability increasing by about 31%.

The new figures follow a furore over the Conservative manifesto and Theresa May’s U-turn on social care this week. In a bid to keep the costs of care down, the manifesto said those needing care at home would have to pay until they had £100,000 in savings left, including the cost of their home.

After accusations that the Conservatives were imposing a “dementia tax”, May promised a cap on the amount any person would pay for care – although without specifying what the cap would be.

The new analysis will make grim reading for whichever party gains power. “The societal, economic and public health implications of our forecast are substantial,” say the researchers, led by academics from the University of Liverpool and University College London.

“Public and private expenditure on long-term care will need to increase considerably by 2025, in view of the predicted 25% rise in the number of people who will have age-related disability. This situation has serious implications for a cash-strapped and overburdened National Health Service and an under-resourced social care system,” they added.

The figures take account for the first time of the changing disease burden as well as the increasing elderly population and longer life expectancy. Cardiovascular disease, which can cause heart attacks and strokes, has gone down, but dementia is rising as people live longer. This makes the research an advance on previous studies, says Professor Stuart Gilmour of the department of global health policy at the University of Tokyo in a commentary published alongside the paper.

“The results show starkly the growing burden of disability that the UK National Health Service and social care system will face over the next decade,” he writes.

“[It] faces a rapid increase in the number of elderly people with disabilities … at a time when it is uniquely unprepared for even the existing burden of disability in the UK population. This important research should be taken as a warning and a strong call for action on health service planning and funding, workforce training and retention, and preparation for the ageing of British society.”

The government urgently needs to consider the options, says the paper. Firstly, more care homes are needed, it says. Secondly, there must be more support for informal and home care – they suggest tax allowances or cash benefits. “Affected individuals and their families pay an estimated 40% of the national cost of long-term care from income and savings,” they write.

But prevention is also vital. Poor diet, smoking, drinking heavily, high blood pressure, diabetes and little physical activity are risk factors for both heart disease and dementia, they say. Immediate investment in improving people’s lifestyles would pay dividends, they say. “We seriously need to protect the future of older citizens through prevention,” said lead author Dr Maria Guzman-Castillo of the University of Liverpool.

She said political parties had not so far been looking at the true scale of the crisis to come. “We think they are not looking at this. There is a gap between the academic community and the government,” she said.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said more investment in the NHS and social care was desperately needed. “It’s a great testament to medical research, and the NHS, that we are living longer – but we need to ensure that our patients are living longer with a good quality of life. For this to happen we need a properly funded, properly staffed health and social care sector with general practice, hospitals and social care all working together – and all communicating well with each other, in the best interests of delivering safe care to all our patients.”

Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “As most people expect to need some form of care in their lifetime, there is an urgent need for the whole country to consider how best to ensure people with care needs are funded and how their care is delivered.

“The need to future-proof adult social care should be a national priority for the new government. Unless a long-term sustainable solution is established to tackle significant sector pressures, a rising number of elderly and disabled people living longer and with increasingly complex needs, along with their families, will struggle to receive the personal, dignified care they depend on and deserve.”

Tory manifesto: more elderly people will have to pay for own social care

More elderly people will have to pay for their own social care in the home and lose universal benefits under a new Conservative policy which, Theresa May will say on Thursday, is difficult but necessary to tackle the crisis in funding.

Introducing the party’s election manifesto, the prime minister will say it is the “responsibility of leaders to be straight with people about the challenges ahead” as she unveils a controversial policy that would reduce the value of estates that many people hope to pass on to their children.

The policy will be a flagship measure in the Tories’ election manifesto, which the prime minister will pitch as a programme for solving some of the challenges facing Britain. It means wealthier people with more than £100,000 in assets will have to pay for their own elderly care out of the value of their homes, rather than relying on the council to cover the costs of visits by care workers.

The Conservatives will attempt to soften the blow by promising that pensioners will not have to sell their homes to pay for their care costs while they or a surviving partner are alive. Instead, products will be available allowing the elderly to pay by extracting equity from their homes, which will be recovered at a later date when they die or sell their residence.

Labour responded to the announcement by saying that people could not trust the Tories’ promises on social care. Barbara Keeley, shadow minister for social care, said: “In their last manifesto, they promised a cap on care costs. But they broke their promise, letting older and vulnerable people down.

“It’s the Tories who have pushed social care into crisis; their cuts to councils have meant £4.6bn axed from social care budgets between 2010 and 2015, leaving 1.2 million people struggling to get by without care. And NHS bosses have recently said that the money the Tories promised them won’t help alleviate the problems.”

To provide a more immediate boost in funding for social care, the government will also end universal winter fuel payments of £100 to £300 a year for pensioners, bringing in a means-tested system instead. The Conservatives declined to say how much they would raise from this, or what limits they would place on who is eligible for the benefits, but the payments currently cost the government around £2bn a year.

The manifesto is set to have a markedly different in tone from Labour’s, which promised a populist programme of mass nationalisation, more spending on the NHS, the abolition of tuition fees and an end to the public sector pay cap.

May billed it as a “declaration of intent: a commitment to get to grips with the great challenges of our time and to take the big, difficult decisions that are right for Britain in the long term”.

“People are rightly sceptical of politicians who claim to have easy answers to deeply complex problems. It is the responsibility of leaders to be straight with people about the challenges ahead and the hard work required to overcome them,” she will say.

Other measures expected to be included in the manifesto are:

A pledge to scrap free school lunches for infants to pay for free
breakfasts for all primary pupils, saving around £650 a year per pupil, which will be used to increase schools funding by about £4bn over the parliament.

Extra charges for businesses that employ workers from overseas and higher charges for foreigners who use the NHS.

A ditching of the triple lock on increasing the state pension, as
signalled by May and other ministers during the campaign.

The care policy is an attempt to meet the cost of looking after the elderly in their homes, which councils across the country are struggling to fund in the face of severe budget cuts. In turn, this has been putting unprecedented pressure on the NHS.

At present, people have to pay for their social care at home if they have wealth of more than £23,500, excluding the value of their residence. Under the new policy, people will have to pay for their social care only if they have wealth of more than £100,000 – but the value of their homes will be included as well. As a result, more homeowners will be liable to pay for the cost of home helps and carers provided by the council.

It is better news for the elderly in residential care, whose homes are already included in calculations of their assets. It means they will now only have to pay for their care until they have remaining assets of £100,000, instead of £23,500. There are no details on when the policy would be implemented, but it is likely that it would require consultation and legislation.

The Conservatives will also say they plan to do more to integrate the NHS and social care, stop unnecessary stays in hospitals, and examine how to make better use of technology to help people live independently for longer. An additional measure to help family carers will be a new right to request unpaid leave from work to look after a relative for up to a year.

May will hope the measures address deep concerns about the long-term costs of funding social care, which have been having a knock-on effect on the NHS as more elderly people stay in hospital.

May said at a press conference on Wednesday that the manifesto would seek to address five major challenges in an echo of social reformer William Beveridge’s five “giant evils”.

The social care announcement is likely to get a mixed reception, as some Conservatives will worry about it going down badly with middle-class voters who want to pass on the value of their homes to their children.

Voter confronts Theresa May over disability benefit cuts – video

May is already under pressure from some on the right of her party over interventionist policies, such as her pledge to cap energy costs for households. Previous attempts to reform the funding of social care have met with deep hostility from the rightwing press, who branded Labour proposals for a levy on estates a “death tax”.

Her decision to include a measure that could be unpopular with middle-aged and elderly voters is likely to be taken as a sign of confidence in winning the election, given the Tories’ double-digit lead in the polls over Labour. Strategists also hope it will paint the prime minister as a realist and pragmatist in contrast to Labour’s manifesto promising more spending on public services paid for by higher taxes on companies and high earners.

Other measures in the manifesto are likely to include proposals on improving skills and apprenticeships, and a promised expansion of workers’ rights, which Labour has dismissed as spin.

The document is also likely to retain the Conservative commitment to bringing down immigration to the tens of thousands from hundreds of thousands. That approach was challenged on Wednesday by a leader in the Evening Standard newspaper, edited by the former chancellor George Osborne, which claimed that no senior cabinet ministers support May’s desire to keep the target.

In a leader column, the newspaper said there had been an assumption at the top of the Conservative party that May would use the election to “bury the pledge” made by David Cameron before he was elected in 2010 because it was unachievable and undesirable. “That’s what her cabinet assumed; none of its senior members supports the pledge in private and all would be glad to see the back of something that has caused the Conservative party such public grief,” the newspaper said.

Editorials are written anonymously as the voice of the newspaper, but Osborne tweeted a link to the column and the front page of the Evening Standard, which attributes a squeeze in the cost of living to inflation caused by Brexit.

Theresa May to unveil policy of making older people pay for social care

More elderly people will have to pay for their own social care in the home and lose universal benefits under a new Conservative policy which, Theresa May will say on Thursday, is difficult but necessary to tackle the crisis in funding.

Introducing the party’s election manifesto, the prime minister will say it is the “responsibility of leaders to be straight with people about the challenges ahead” as she unveils a controversial policy that will reduce the value of estates that many people will have hoped to pass on to their children.

The policy will be a flagship measure in the Tories’ election manifesto, which the prime minister will pitch as a programme for solving some of the challenges facing Britain. It means wealthier people with more than £100,000 in assets will have to pay for their own elderly care out of the value of their homes, rather than relying on the council to cover the costs of visits by care workers.

The Conservatives will attempt to soften the blow by promising that pensioners will not have to sell their homes to pay for their care costs while they or a surviving partner are alive. Instead, products will be available allowing the elderly to pay by extracting equity from their homes, which will be recovered at a later date when they die or sell their residence.

Labour responded to the announcement by saying that people could not trust the Tories’ promises on social care. Barbara Keeley, shadow minister for social care, said: “In their last manifesto, they promised a cap on care costs. But they broke their promise, letting older and vulnerable people down.

“It’s the Tories who have pushed social care into crisis; their cuts to councils have meant £4.6bn axed from social care budgets between 2010 and 2015, leaving 1.2 million people struggling to get by without care. And NHS bosses have recently said that the money the Tories promised them won’t help alleviate the problems.”

To provide a more immediate boost in funding for social care, the government will also end universal winter fuel payments of £100 to £300 a year for pensioners, bringing in a means-tested system instead. The Conservatives declined to say how much they would raise from this, or what limits they would place on who is eligible for the benefits, but the payments currently cost the government around £2bn a year.

The manifesto is set to have a markedly different in tone from Labour’s, which promised a populist programme of mass nationalisation, more spending on the NHS, the abolition of tuition fees and an end to the public-sector pay cap.

May billed it as a “declaration of intent: a commitment to get to grips with the great challenges of our time and to take the big, difficult decisions that are right for Britain in the long term”.

“People are rightly sceptical of politicians who claim to have easy answers to deeply complex problems. It is the responsibility of leaders to be straight with people about the challenges ahead and the hard work required to overcome them,” she will say.

Other measures expected to be included in the manifesto are:

A pledge to scrap free school lunches for infants to pay for free
breakfasts for all primary pupils, saving around £650 a year per pupil, which will be used to increase schools funding by about £4bn over the parliament.

Extra charges for businesses that employ workers from overseas and higher charges for foreigners who use the NHS.

A ditching of the triple lock on increasing the state pension, as
signalled by May and other ministers during the campaign.

The care policy is an attempt to meet the cost of looking after the elderly in their homes, which councils across the country are struggling to fund in the face of severe budget cuts. In turn, this has been putting unprecedented pressure on the NHS.

At present, people have to pay for their social care at home if they have wealth of more than £23,500, excluding the cost of value of their residence. Under the new policy, people will have to pay for their social care only if they have wealth of more than £100,000 – but the value of their homes will be included as well. As a result, more homeowners will be liable to pay for the cost of home helps and carers provided by the council.

It is better news for the elderly in residential care, whose homes are already included in calculations of their assets. It means they will now only have to pay for their care until they have remaining assets of £100,000, instead of £23,500. There are no details on when the policy would be implemented, but it is likely that it would require consultation and legislation.

The Conservatives will also say they plan to do more to integrate the NHS and social care, stop unnecessary stays in hospitals, and examine how to make better use of technology to help people live independently for longer. An additional measure to help family carers will be a new right to request unpaid leave from work to look after a relative for up to a year.

May will hope the measures address deep concerns about the long-term costs of funding social care, which have been having a knock-on effect on the NHS as more elderly people stay in hospital. On Thursday, doctors’ leaders will accuse ministers of a “callous disregard” of the NHS and putting its funding into “deep freeze”. The British Medical Association will call on ministers to plug “the enormous funding gap” in healthcare spending between Britain and other major European countries.

May said at a press conference on Wednesday that the manifesto would seek to address five major challenges in an echo of social reformer William Beveridge’s five “giant evils”.

The social care announcement is likely to get a mixed reception, as some Conservatives will worry about it going down badly with middle-class voters who want to pass on the value of their homes to their children.

Voter confronts Theresa May over disability benefit cuts – video

May is already under pressure from some on the right of her party over interventionist policies, such as her pledge to cap energy costs for households. Previous attempts to reform the funding of social care have met with deep hostility from the rightwing press, who branded Labour proposals for a levy on estates a “death tax”.

Her decision to include a measure that could be unpopular with middle-aged and elderly voters is likely to be taken as a sign of confidence of winning the election, given the Tories’ double-digit lead in the polls over Labour. Strategists also hope it will paint the prime minister as a realist and pragmatist in contrast to Labour’s manifesto promising more spending on public services paid for by higher taxes on companies and high earners.

Other measures in the manifesto are likely to include proposals on improving skills and apprenticeships, and a promised expansion of workers’ rights, which Labour has dismissed as spin.

The document is also likely to retain the Conservative commitment to bringing down immigration to the tens of thousands from hundreds of thousands. That approach was challenged on Wednesday by a leader in the Evening Standard newspaper, edited by the former chancellor George Osborne, which claimed that no senior cabinet ministers support May’s desire to keep the target.

In a leader column, the newspaper said there had been an assumption at the top of the Conservative party that May would use the election to “bury the pledge” made by David Cameron before he was elected in 2010 because it was unachievable and undesirable. “That’s what her cabinet assumed; none of its senior members supports the pledge in private and all would be glad to see the back of something that has caused the Conservative party such public grief,” the newspaper said.

Editorials are written anonymously as the voice of the newspaper, but Osborne tweeted a link to the column and the front page of the Evening Standard, which attributes a squeeze in the cost of living to inflation caused by Brexit.

If you have no children, who will care for you when you’re old? | Sonia Sodha

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We had to fight to get my grandfather good care. Those of us who don’t have children need a new approach

Few of us are immune from the anxiety that can quickly set in when we contemplate our own ageing. Who will be there for us when us can no longer physically take care of ourselves? Who will be around to remind us of who we were in our moments of lucidity when our minds have started slipping away?

For those of us who don’t have children, these questions take on a particular significance. I had mixed feelings after watching Still Alice, an Oscar-winning depiction of early-onset dementia. It made for grim viewing. But it was easy to imagine the ways it could have been even grimmer: what if the protagonist, Alice, had no children, a partner long departed or divorced, or friends who had drifted away?

Related: Why should older people rely on their families for care? | Catherine Bennett

Related: Mice benefit from research into cannabis. Why not us? | Simon Jenkins

Continue reading…

What I’m really thinking: the care home visitor

I come whenever I can, a round trip of several hours. And although the care staff are always welcoming, I see the disappointment in their eyes when I leave. With a couple of short breaks, I can usually last three hours. It’s all I can take of the mumbled sentences that make no sense, watching television while he sleeps and swapping pleasantries with the staff, who always seem surprised by my presence.

They assure me that there is a steady stream of other family and friends who drop in. I try not to take it personally, although it feels like a criticism. I am thankful for the way the staff look after our relative but we all know he barely registers my presence. As far as I can tell, he is happier in the company of the people who care for him and clean and feed him.

Frankly, I feel like an inconvenience, a stranger interrupting his routine. I have thought about not coming any more and I secretly wonder how a civilised society can allow a person to subsist in his condition – not living, merely existing in a gradual, unstoppable decline.

He lies there bedridden, half-paralysed and hovering between worlds. I am in no doubt that he receives the very best palliative care, but I can’t help thinking that society shows him less compassion than it would an animal in making him endure this.

The whole experience has made me think about making a living will, and also about the wider issue of end-of-life care. I also question my own motives more now. Do other visitors wish their loved ones dead, to end their suffering and ours?

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Lib Dems pledge 1p tax rise to ‘rescue NHS and social care’

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to increase income tax by a penny for every earner to fund a £6bn-a-year cash injection for the NHS and social care.

In what was described as their “flagship” spending commitment of the general election campaign, the party’s leader, Tim Farron, said voters recognised the need to “chip in a little more” to address the “chronic underfunding” of healthcare.

Under the Lib Dem plan, 1p would be added to the basic, higher and additional rates of income tax and the rate of dividend tax from the next financial year, with the £6bn raised being ring-fenced for the NHS, social care and public health.

The proposal – which echoes the Lib Dems’ pledge from the 1990s to put a penny on income tax for education – will be seen as a clear attempt to capitalise on public concerns about the state of healthcare.

Theresa May has insisted the Conservatives have no plans for tax rises while appearing to back away from a previous pledge not to put up income tax or national insurance.

Farron said: “Theresa May doesn’t care about the NHS or social care. People are lying on trolleys in hospital corridors and she has done nothing.

“The Liberal Democrats will rescue the NHS and social care. We are prepared to be honest with people and say that we will all need to chip in a little more.”

The party’s health spokesman, Norman Lamb, said: “The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be. A penny on the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.”

The Lib Dems pointed to an opinion poll finding from last year, which suggested 70% of voters would back a 1p rise in income tax if the money was guaranteed to go to the NHS.

According to figures released by the party, the rise would mean an increase of £33 a year – or less than £1 a week – for someone earning £15,000 a year, rising to £133 a year – or less than £3 a week – for someone earning £25,000.

At the top end, someone earning £150,000 would pay an extra £1,500 a year – or £29 a week – while someone on £250,000 would pay £2,500 a year, or £48 a week extra.

In the longer term, the Lib Dems said they would introduce a health and care tax to bring spending on both services together in a collective budget, and make clear on people’s payslips what was being spent on those services.

The party said it would seek to establish a cross-party health and care convention to review longer term sustainability of the health and care finances while setting up an office of health and care funding, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Occupational therapy could save NHS and social care – but don’t call us OTs | Julia Scott

With a general election around the corner, the call has gone out to work out what can be done about an NHS and social care system in meltdown. What is needed is a group of staff who can reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, slash delayed discharges, prevent readmissions, and help the NHS and social care system work seamlessly together.

Occupational therapists, represented by the officially renamed Royal College of Occupational Therapists, are that group.

Our data shows that putting occupational therapy at the frontline of the NHS cuts unnecessary A&E admissions by up to 80% and reduces delayed transfers of care by eight days. Another recent study found that “occupational therapy is the only category where additional spending has a statistically significant association with lower readmission rates”. This evidence cannot and must not be ignored.

The same applies in social care. For too long, we’ve collectively wrung our hands and exclaimed that something must be done to fix the system. Later this year we will publish a report which will reveal that putting occupational therapy at the heart of social care results in higher quality, person-centred services at lower overall cost. Occupational therapists respond to 40% of social care referrals but make up just 2% of the workforce. Imagine what we could achieve if more of us were deployed to lead services.

The astute reader will have noticed that I am using our professional title in full. Calling us OTs is no longer acceptable. I refuse to allow my profession to be reduced to two letters. I am an occupational therapist, not an acronym, and so are each of the newest Royal College’s 32,000 members.


Unless there is greater recognition of occupational therapy the system will continue to waste time reinventing the wheel

Occupational therapists evaluate a person’s home environment, examining the challenges it presents and suggesting how they might be overcome. We assess for care and support packages and home adaptations, and provide rehabilitation and reablement. We work to build self-reliance, rather than dependence on services.

The NHS can’t wait for a long-term funding plan or for a new government, whatever its colour, to yet again rethink the health and social care system. People who need support shouldn’t suffer while they wait for politicians to figure out the answers. And although there is increasing recognition of the vital contribution we make, I highly doubt any of this year’s political manifestos even mention the potential of the occupational workforce.

Unless there is greater recognition of the value of occupational therapy, the system will continue to waste time reinventing the wheel. One possible solution to this would be to widen the pool of allied health professionals (AHPs) in leadership positions in the NHS. Too many people secure top posts through clinical directorships, and therefore have to be a medic or nurse. This discriminates against AHPs and prevents us from bringing our unique perspective to board level discussions.

The professional body of occupational therapists might now have royal status but, to quote a famous former prime minister, “this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”. Expect to hear a lot more from occupational therapists. Just don’t call us OTs …

Julia Scott is chief executive of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists

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