Labour wants to end means testing of end of life care

Labour wants to end means testing of end of life care, giving everyone the opportunity, to die in their own home.

Shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham revealed Labour’s plans to transform end of life care at Unison’s annual health conference in Brighton.

Under the proposals, people will have the option of spending their final days at home or in hospital, without worrying about how much their relatives will have to pay towards the cost of their care if they choose to stay at home.

Mr Burnham said the NHS needs to take a “whole-person” approach to care, integrating physical, mental and social care.

The free social care would be paid for by moving resources out of hospitals and into communities.

Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, said: “Recognition of the importance of end of life care and the staff who provides these services is very welcome. People with a terminal illness should be able to choose where to spend their final days, regardless of worries about how much it will cost their loved one.”

She added: “All families deserve the chance to make the most of precious final days together in a place where they feel most comfortable.

“Providing a tailored, comprehensive and dignified service means building into these proposals provisions for well trained and properly paid staff.”

Age UK has also welcomed the proposal.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK’s charity director general said, “Social care is vital in helping people to have a good death. Professional carers help a dying person to wash, go to the toilet, eat and most importantly to help them maintain their quality of life while supporting family and friends.

“The majority of people say that they would prefer to die at home, yet around 60 per cent of people die in hospital. This is often the result of poor or absent planning, with little support for families and carers to look after people during the last weeks and months of life.

“Consequently, relatives find themselves battling for funding and services at a traumatic point in their and their loved ones lives. Age UK therefore welcomes the Labour party’s decision to support free social care for people at the end of life.”

However, she added: “The purpose of social care is to support the health, dignity and well-being of many more people than just those who are at the end of life.

“This is why politicians from all parties must demonstrate the courage and conviction to reform and appropriately fund the wider spectrum of social care provision. Andrew Dilnot’s recommendations create a new blueprint for social care, where individuals can affordably contribute towards their care, while being able to depend upon a system of social care that is fit for purpose and able to support the most vulnerable in society.”