Social Care Costs ‘Little Understood’

Council leaders are warning that one-in-five people are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to their future care needs.

According to an independent survey carried out for the Local Government Association (LGA) , 93% of people believe it is at least fairly likely that most people will need care in their old age – but only 71% think it will happen to them.

The research, released to coincide with a debate between Care Services Minister Phil Hope, Conservative shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien, and Liberal Democrat counterpart Alan Lamb, also showed the costs of care are a mystery to most.

Among its findings were the revelation only 13% of respondents correctly estimated the cost of care in a residential home for one elderly person for a year to be upwards of £35,000.

David Rogers (Lib Dem), who chairs the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said the research should act as a “wake-up call” of the growing issue that care needs and care costs were set to become.

“Within the next 15 years this country will be home to at least three million more over 65s, and there must be a plan for how we look after those who need care and support,” he said.

“Everyone needs to be involved in the debate about how we provide the vital services which vulnerable people deserve and councils want to provide.

“In this difficult financial climate it is also crucial that the funds we have are used as sensibly as possible, so the maximum possible amount is spent on frontline services which support people to stay healthy in their own homes.”

Ahead of the publication of the government’s green paper on the future of care and support, the LGA is proposing reforms to improve the care of older people and ease the burden on the taxpayer.

Its three key recommendations are:

    *investment in preventative services
    *better co-ordinated spending of public funds to get older and disabled people better value for money
    *a single needs assessment