Mah Rana travels up to five hours a day across London to care for her 87-year-old mother. Since her mother was diagnosed with dementia it’s something she’s been doing nearly every day for four years.
She’s classed as an unpaid carer, and it’s taken over her life, and it’s all-absorbing because it’s a 24/7 job, and it affects her sleep and it increases her stress levels because she’s always worried about her mother when she’s away from her.
Her mother goes to a daycare centre in West London, an important facility to help her to a point of extreme need, but to be cared for there she has to pay just like all attendees who live with dementia, but this leaves her mother with no disposable income.
Her mother doesn’t have a vital income, so that impacts on her finances because in terms of social care she has to pay for everything, even though she has a disability, but now a new report from the UK’s leading progressive think tank maintains that social care for the over 65s who need it should cost them nothing, just like the health service, and in turn it could save billions of pounds.
Under the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) proposal, older people who can afford accommodation expenses will still have to pay for it, but they won’t have to fork out for personal care wherever they live across the country.
Approximately 1 in 10 people face catastrophic care costs of £100,000 or more, and at the moment they’re paying for that largely out of their own savings, or what we have is a huge number of people going without the care that they need.
The report suggests that the change would create parity between cancer patients whose care is all free from the NHS, and those with dementia, many of whom have to pay for all their care. It says it would raise the number of people with access to state-funded care to just under half a million, easing pressure to unpaid carers, and it would further help shift hospital patients back into the community and give a higher quality and integrated service resulting in possible savings to the National Health Service of 4.5 billion pounds.
But where will the money come from?
The think tank proposes raising taxes to make up the funds, and they say that a two per cent rise to income tax is required.
A more long term strategy needs to involve probably a kind of social assurance scheme, and there are some really great models in Europe, but particularly in Germany where they’ve thought out a way to have a sustainable funding model for social care, which means that the costs aren’t lumped onto families at the end of someone’s life.
Plus the Department of Health and Social Care say they’re dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to the care and support that they need because then people like Mah Rana and her mother will benefit, not only financially but emotionally if this latest proposal comes into force.