‘Give Needy Eight Weeks’ Free Care’

Councils should give vulnerable residents up to eight weeks of free social care to keep them out of hospital, according to a groundbreaking report.

Hampshire CC’s much-anticipated commission on personalisation and care modernisation also calls for a standardised national framework for assessing the level of support people need.

The report’s other pillars include more than doubling to £50,000 the level of savings people can hold and remain eligible for funded assistance, and government action to promote the spending of more primary care trust funds on early-intervention projects across health and social care.

The commission, which included national figures such as Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president John Dixon, based its findings on submissions from hundreds of Hampshire residents at evidence-gathering sessions held throughout the summer.

As well as shaping future social care in Hampshire, Getting Personal: A Fair Deal for Better Care and Support has been submitted to the Department of Health’s pre-green paper consultation on the future of social care. The cost of implementing the report’s proposals across England was estimated at up to £1.9bn a year.

Hampshire leader Ken Thornber (Con) said the findings were vital to informing the national debate as well as the basis for shaping services nationwide.

“The recommendations offer real solutions to the issues and the challenges faced not only by Hampshire CC, but by service users and carers, all local authorities, primary care trusts and care providers across the country,” he said.

Anne McDonald, programme director for community wellbeing at the Local Government Association , said Hampshire’s offer of free care was an “interesting idea” that could easily be expanded in scope, preventing more costly care  being required later on.

“The principle could be applied more broadly, with anyone asking for help being entitled to a period of free social care while their needs were assessed,” she said.

The commission also recommended a “universal offer” of free support for those seeking care services.