One in five of the UK population will develop long term care needs, yet the care system is still not fit for future generations of pensioners, says a new 15-strong coalition, which will launch a major public debate on the future of long term care funding tomorrow (26th April).
The 'Caring Choices' coalition, run by the King's Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Help the Aged, Age Concern and supported by 11 other key organisations spanning health and care, have joined forces to host seven regional debates across the UK, which aim to address the current failings of care system and look at potential solutions. Views of the public, older people and their carers will be sought to determine how we reach a fairer system of paying for care in the future.
Key themes, based on evidence from Sir Derek Wanless' review of social care funding for older people for the King's Fund, and Joseph Rowntree Foundation's long-term care funding programme, will be explored among an informed audience at each event. Those invited to the each event include older people and their carers, care providers, commissioners and staff, and local and national policy makers. Each event will include a panel discussion with high profile speakers and participants will take part in an interactive voting session - the results of which will be used to encourage wider public and political debate.
Each event will focus on three key questions:
- Who should pay for care? Participants will be asked to discuss what elements of care - in what proportion - should be covered by the state and by individuals.
- How do we encourage people to contribute to their care costs?
- How do we encourage communities and families to provide informal care? How, as a society, should we value, encourage and incentivise informal care in the future?
Niall Dickson, King's Fund chief executive said: "The review carried out by Sir Derek Wanless for the King's Fund demonstrated that the current long term care system is not sustainable for the future. A proper debate about roles, responsibilities and risks - and the trade-offs we are prepared to make as individuals and as a society - should make a big contribution to policy development in this important area."
Julia Unwin, director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "We need a "Plan B" for social care funding - the current system is neither fair, clear or sustainable and the time has come to devise a system that is fit for the 21st Century. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has been concerned about this social policy issue for many years and the strength of concern is borne out by the fact that 15 key organisations are supporting this initiative."
Mervyn Kohler, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, said:
"Many people get a nasty surprise when they develop care needs and discover that they may have to pick up the bill. Getting the balance between what is fair for individuals to contribute and what the State should pay is the first step towards creating fairer system all round. The Government alone can't make this decision, we all must have a say."
Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said:
"At present, relatively few people know at first hand the full extent of the chaos within long-term care. As our population ages, more and more people will be confronted with this uncomfortable truth. And you can see the anxiety already. Now is the time to discuss honestly and openly about making the system work for all. "
The debates begin amid current speculation around the Comprehensive Spending Review, due to be released in the Autumn. Despite calls from leading campaign groups, there is concern that social care will not get a real term cash increase.
A new interactive website, www.caringchoices.org.uk, goes live on 26 April 2007, and provides a way for older people, their carers and those who work in the field of social care for older people to get involved in the debate.