Engage: Elderly residential care ‘broken and crying out for reform’ – Baroness Bakewell

A major rethink is needed of the “broken” system underpinning elderly residential care provision, writer and broadcaster Joan Bakewell has said.

The Labour peer and former government voice of older people argued that the welfare of society’s most vulnerable citizens was being left “at the mercy of the private equity-style business model”.

No sector was “crying out for reform more” than the care of the elderly and she urged the Government to tackle the issue with “the greatest urgency”.

Lady Bakewell (pictured) made her plea as peers continued to debate the recent Queen’s Speech, which set out the Government’s legislative plans.

While it contained a commitment to reform adult social care in England, there is no legislation planned at this stage.

Highlighting the existing residential care business model, Lady Bakewell said: “This needs a major rethink.”

She hoped the continuing delay in the Government bringing forward proposals was “because someone, somewhere has woken up to the fact that the system is broken”.

Lady Bakewell said: “The well-being and sense of security of frail old people is at the mercy of the private equity-style business model, with the risk of companies carrying heavy debt burdens and paying extremely high interest rates.”

She added: “It is not a safe reliable model for the ongoing care of our older people.”

The peer went on: “Sudden changes in company finances can leave old residents suddenly bereft and bewildered.”

There was also evidence that companies were now preferring to set up care homes in the most affluent areas where there will be more self-funding residents.

“The market will thus be failing to supply the needs of the poorer old,” said Lady Bakewell.

She added: “Growing old is not an option.

“No sector in our society is crying out for reform more than our care for the elderly and, incidentally, their dedicated and underpaid care workers.

“Will the Government address these concerns with the greatest urgency and can they give us a timescale?”

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