Minister Promises Elderly Care Review

The government today promised a comprehensive review of the controversial eligibility criteria which determine services for older people.

Ivan Lewis, the minister for social care, said the government would address the “inflexibility and rigidity” of the criteria and promised a “complete and fundamental review” of the system.

Speaking at a Guardian conference in London on commissioning care for older people, Lewis said the government would also crack down on poor quality care homes and told local authorities to use their buying power to drive them out of business.

“We want a world class service where older people are treated with dignity and respect and if necessary we have to drive out those providers who are not giving that quality of care.”

Making sure older people had an active ‘intergenerational’ role in society was key to changing society’s attitudes, said Lewis. “Older people do not need to be patronised but have a massive amount to offer that would keep them healthy and well,” he said.

“I want to see in every community inter-generational programmes that bring older and younger people together. Why can’t we see older people helping children with their reading or kids teaching older people about computers?”

He added that the government would tackle holes in the current system which result in people who fund their own care doing so without guidance and support.

“That was never our intention and we must do something about it,” he said. “Self-funders should not be left alone to make difficult choices about where they get their care from.” The government also plan to end an ‘anomaly’ whereby people who are publicly funded to live in private sector care homes are not covered by the Human Rights Act.

An ICM poll for the Guardian this week revealed that 66% of adults are frightened by the prospect of going into a care home.

Lewis today announced “a major expansion of the dignity in care campaign” for hospitals, care homes and homecare services. He said: “The test that should apply to politicians, managers and front line staff is this: if you wouldn’t want your mum and dad to be treated like that, you shouldn’t accept it for anybody else’s mother or father.”

The government will publish a green paper on the funding of social care next year and Gordon Brown has promised a new deal for millions of carers looking after family and friends.