Three years ago we wrote about the social care crisis in our post Old Age Care: Where do we go from here? By now, there should have been some changes implemented to help ease the crisis.
However, social care reforms have, once again, been put on hold. Lord Bethell, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department of Health and Social Care recently said he cannot commit to a social care plan before the end of 2020.
The Social Care Crisis
The fact is, care is expensive. Many people find, as they reach their twilight years, all of their money is siphoned off to pay for the care they need, often having to sell their home to afford even a basic level of care. This leaves nothing for their families to inherit once they pass away.
Time is running out
Years of inaction around the social care crisis means the government is under increasing pressure to solve the problem. Any proposed plan by the government has since been missed or dropped. Including a cap on care costs which was supposed to come into effect in 2016, then delayed until 2020.
Back in July, the head of the NHS told the BBC that plans to adequately fund the social care sector need to be in place within a year. He added that the COVID-19 crisis had shone a “very harsh spotlight” on the “resilience” of the care system.
Before the coronavirus pandemic there were at least 1.5 million people who were living without the care they need. That number is likely to have inflated a significant amount.
As we approach winter, still firmly in the grasp of COVID-19, it is feared the social care crisis will only get worse without an urgent overhaul of the current social care system.
Let’s face it, we’re all likely to need some kind of care in the future. This is an issue that is going to affect all of us in one way or another.
Reforming the social care system is complex
The idea behind the social care reforms is to allow people to get the care they need in later life, without having to sell their homes to afford it. So far, the government has failed to set out how they plan to do this.
The cost for reforming the social care system will be huge. Which is probably why no government has made much effort to tackle it yet. It can now be argued, however, that they can no longer afford to ignore it. The coronavirus pandemic has proved to be an unwelcome reminder of just how important social care is to so many people.
There isn’t an easy answer
You just have to do a quick search online and you will find an array of articles with a different ideas and opinions on how the crisis can be solved. Whether that is improving the system we currently have or introducing a whole new solution.
Moving social care into the NHS is an old idea that has been circulating for a while amongst commentators. Some argue that it is unfair that our health needs are taken care of for free in the NHS, whereas we receive little or no support for care.
What is the government saying?
Prime minister, Boris Johnson, has said that he is committed to bringing a proposal forward and is planning to ‘get it done’ by the end of the current parliament. He pointed out that social care is complex and could not be fixed overnight (fair enough, but it’s been over 20 years now…) and there are a lot of important moral and social issues associated with any reform.
Lord Bethell commented “it will require a huge amount of political collaboration and I suspect it will take longer than the next few months.”
Whatever the government choose to do, they will need to remember to plan for the staff too. It’s all very well funding a new care system but if you don’t have enough of the amazing workers to fill the requirements, it’s not going to work.
The COVID pandemic has allowed us to shine a spotlight on the key workers who made huge sacrifices to look after people. Now would be a good time to make sure they are looked after too.
Are you concerned about paying for future care costs?
It’s always a good idea to have a chat with your Financial Adviser too. It’s their job to help make sure your money lasts as long as you need it to. Ask your adviser about including long term care planning into your financial plan.
Get in touch if you would like to have a chat with us about your later life finances. You’ll be in good hands, Ralph is a fully accredited member of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA), giving you the peace of mind that you are receiving quality specialist knowledge of this ever-changing sector.