The Crisis in Elderly Care Provision

It seems there is no going back now,and all local authorities are saddled with the big “front-loaded” cuts that the Government has decided have to be made.

Given that the budget for the Elderly Care service has always seemed to be “austere”,that the elderly frail and demented population is set to rise exponentially over the next decade or so ,given that provision is patchy and in some cases barely adequate now anyway. How can we justify ANY cuts in this area,that patently needs MORE investment?
An ex-Nurse who does our on-going “moving and handling” training,was saying that a care-home local to her ,was having to lose 400 plus “care-hours” can the service possibly be maintained to the same level?
The short-cuts and under-staffing that has characterised the Private Sector providers,especially on night-shifts,is now having to be advocated by the Public sector,thus encouraging the Private sector to cut-corners all the more. The sad facts are that moving into a care-home will become even more of a lottery as to the quality of care provided .
The workforce are currently being squeezed from all directions.
There is a public sector pay freeze overall. Weekend pay is being cut wether we like it or not.Maybe this is just a change in the working time culture? Saturday and Sunday are regular working days for an increasing number of the working population anyway.We will just have to accept this,obviously,but none of us were asking for a pay RISE In the first place. Just adequate “tools” to carry on doing the job.
Throughout what I might laughingly refer to as “my career” ,elderly residential,and now,increasingly dementia care has remained the “Cinderella service”..a patchwork of funding ,with a range of provision which is inconsistent in quality…
Only requiring the minimum of qualifications ,with relatively low pay.(Typically,around £8 an hour these days)The job of care-assistant for elderly residential care, despite what we know to be the personally fulfilling nature of the job, has remained largely low-status, not attracting graduates or many men. Seen as a “second-job”..the hours are flexible,but therefore quite often “part-time” . However,these factors are also virtues in that staffing mainly comes from the immediate locality and ,our unit ,like many across the County remains a vital asset to the local community. Witness the presence today, as I write,of a large number of us at two Funerals for local women,who both lived into their late nineties,under our care.
At our unit currently,three people in their mid-nineties have been reunited ,having known each-other at junior school!
In relation to this,i have recently been made aware of a BUPA report that shows the impending crisis in elderly care beds. With private homes in many cases not able to commercially withstand a lack of increase in local funding. It projects a shortfall of 81 to 100,000 “care” beds. With the NHS comprehensively “bed-blocked” across the Country as a result. The average Care Home bed ranges from £400 to £900 a week.Pretty steep anyway.
The same person,forced by lack of places to stay in an NHS bed costs around £1800 a week!
What IS the latest thinking on long-term care for the elderly? The last serious ideas seem to have been those of Andy Burnham the last Labour Health Secretary..Then of course we had all the “Death Tax” rubbishing as the Election Campaign took over ,and the whole issue seems to have been comprehensively “kicked into the long grass” once again. Surely we need a “National Elderly Care Service” funded by us all in some way?
Given that the economy WILL pick up over the next three to four years . Is there any “light at the end of the tunnel” for elderly care provision?
Will there be a restoration of funding to the local authorities?
If no ,then just what are we working towards? Bumbling on with the service deteriorating with overstressed staff effectively doing the same job and more, for less?
Or can we just count ourselves out of the equation altogether as Central Government urges Local Government to privatise and ,as I would see it ,down-grade all these essential services? This seems an unlikely prospect in light of the BUPA report..What financial incentives are there for private investment,when the funding is reliant on Local Government subsidy, and that is being reduced? It just does NOT add up.?
What are the prospects ,should they need 24 hr care for your parents ,or mine..or those of your neighbours and friends?
What are the black and white facts about the money available?
I read that £2Bn has been allocated, to be ring-fenced for elderly care. Central Government have instructed Local Government to do this,despite the general encouragement now NOT to ring-fence,and to allow more flexibility for Local Government to allocate funds.
The Local authorities are being asked to find average across the board cuts of roughly £ “adult services” budget is typically £60 million ..if £2bn has been ring-fenced to preserve the increasing demands of elderly care across the Country then why are elderly care services being squeezed at all? The savings involved are in the hundreds of thousands..we are talking about thousands of Millions being allocated?
The £2Bn Spread over ,400 Local Authorities ,would mean roughly FIVE million extra for each.Adult Services.dept to start with.
Plus,if Local Authorities have any contingency funds, then why are they not using them now? What other disaster or crisis are they waiting for? Just what ARE the Local and Central Government officials up to.?
We have reached a crisis point in elderly care needs MORE funding not less.
Chris Morrell

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