Public ‘still ignorant of social care system’

Confusion over the failings of the current social care system and a reluctance to look after elderly relatives could hamper public debate on the government’s impending Green Paper, a survey has warned.

Ahead of the proposals for changing the nation’s care-funding system, which are due out next month, research from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows people are reluctant to pay for relatives’ care and that few want to rely on their family for help.

According to the organisations, 52% of respondents to a recent survey said they should not be compelled to pay for the care of a relative, while 45% of those surveyed said they would prefer to be looked after by a professional carer than a family member.

IPPR and PwC also found that less than half (46%) of respondents were aware that social care services like home-helps were means tested, and that just 22% were taking any steps to provide for their own future care needs.

Carey Oppenheim, co-director of IPPR, said the survey’s findings raised questions about the public’s readiness to consider how the current system should be re-modelled.

“Our research shows that there is confusion about existing provision and a substantial gap between public expectations and social care realities,” she said.

“Government urgently needs to address this disconnect before it brings forward policy proposals that seek to fundamentally reform the social contract between the state and its citizens.”

Amanda Kelly, lead partner for social care, at PwC said funding social care was currently one of the biggest challenges faced by society and needed to be approached with a better degree of public understanding.  “The public need and want more information about social care provision and prospects for the future,” she said.

“We support proposals for government to address this gap before it asks people to respond to proposals for policy change.”