By Leon A Smith
July 12, 2012
This week it was reported in the media that a local authority was currently spending £450,000 a year to keep open a care home with just one resident. 13 staff are employed at the home in a small town near Cardiff. The council had tried to close the home in 2009 when it had 12 residents but this had not been possible due to pressure from relatives.
It’s quite true that moving an older person does carry with it significant risks. However, there must come a point where for the greater good it is simply no longer viable to maintain the status quo. It goes without saying that £ ½ M could be used for the wider benefit of older people in the community rather than being spent on supporting one person.
There was no surprise whatsoever in this week’s White Paper in relation to long term care of older people. Whilst it could have been interpreted as a positive that the coalition government has accepted the principles of the Dilnot Report regarding funding, the stark reality is that the problem has once again been kicked into the long grass. Governments of varying shades have been doing this for 2 decades. We now learn that notwithstanding the acceptance of the Dilnot principles, that the matter will not be considered until the 2014 Spending Review. This of course presupposes that the country’s financial position has been turned around by that stage to a point where it is felt that they can spend the £1.7bn identified by Andrew Dilnot as being the minimum cost of implementation.
Who knows what will happen in 2014 and indeed whether the Dilnot recommendations will indeed be acted upon or will the government simply feel the need for further consultation and procrastination. If one were by nature cynical or sceptical, one might begin to believe that effectively all governments really do not care about older people. £1.7bn is a lot of money but in the wider context with everything that is going on in the economy at the present time, it really isn’t. One wonders what the overall cost was of the recent U-turns in relation to fuel levy and hot pasties?
What other conclusion can one come to other than the fact that the needs and wellbeing of older people simply are not a priority. Whilst the whole issue is on the back burner until at least 2014 with implementation probably coming some time after that, more and more people will be suffering considerable hardship in the coming years.