Life is full of surprises

By Leon A Smith
May 10, 2012

Life is full of surprises – so they say! Nobody could have been more surprised than me therefore to have learnt in the Queen’s Speech that the government have decided after all not to act at this point in time on the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission on Long Term Funding of Older People.

You will have read in my Blog on a number of occasions about my scepticism in relation to this matter. I was extremely doubtful as to whether the government would truly grasp the nettle and endeavour to take on board the recommendations made by Andrew Dilnot in his well researched and thought out report.

The key issues which had been raised included capping any individual’s liability for their care, recognising that the cost of care of older people has to be resolved in the form of a partnership between the State/local authority, the individual and possibly the insurance market. What a surprise to learn that in the government’s priorities that implementing or even considering Dilnot’s recommendations have gone by the wayside.

I realise of course that there are enormous pressures on the government’s parliamentary time and therefore prioritisation does have to take place. Clearly reform of the House of Lords and legalisation of gay marriages are more important than making sure that the ever increasing number of older people in our society can be cared for with dignity in their old age.

It is possible that some of my readers may detect a very vague tinge of cynicism in these remarks?! I have in the past 12 months written in a number of journals on the subject of long term care and funding. I have also spent a considerable amount of time lobbying MPs – it seems to no avail. Although this can hardly come as a surprise to me as not one Member of Parliament with whom I have met has given me any cause to believe that change is afoot.

Once again, the issue of funding of older people appears to be too hot to handle. This government will continue to prevaricate and leave it to some future government to pick up the problem. In the meantime life expectancy increases and the number of older people increases as the “baby boom” generation become “of age”. Mr Dilnot’s report will remain on the shelf on top of the Labour Party’s Royal Commission report – and who knows how many more reports will join them in the future. It seems that those of us working in this sector caring for older people are going to have to continue with a system which is neither fit for purpose nor fair nor comprehensible. And we will just muddle-along as we have done in the past decades.

As a footnote this week I would just like to pay tribute to Vidal Sassoon who we have just learnt has sadly died at the age of 84. Vidal was a remarkable man and we had the pleasure of seeing him at Nightingale on a number of occasions. He was kind and sincere and he had a wonderful ability (something I was quite envious of!) and that was the ability to remember the name of every person he met on his visit to Nightingale. I know he will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.


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