Elderly people facing tangle of red tape in quest for social care

18 Sep 08
The social care system for older people should be simplified and personalised, two new reports have found

19 September 2008

The social care system for older people should be simplified and personalised, two new reports have found.

A Local Government Association report, Our lives, our choices, said older people needing care at home are faced with a mire of red tape to qualify for assistance.

A survey carried out for the LGA revealed that pensioners had to answer up to 700 questions on six different forms before they benefited from assistance.

The LGA has set out recommendations, including a single system of eligibility and funding at a local and personal level, to help overcome these obstacles.

The report, published on September 12, calls for streamlined means-testing to replace the numerous and complex forms, and a personal budget to give older people greater choice over the type of help they need.

Funding remains a critical issue for councils, says the report, as more than two thirds of councils have restricted their eligibility criteria so individual care services are available only to people whose needs are assessed as 'substantial or critical'.

David Rogers, chair of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: 'It is utterly ridiculous that so many administrative obstacles are put in the way of people who need help and support. Those least able to cope are expected to wade through a mountain of red tape. Common sense must play a part.'

The LGA's findings were backed up by a new report by Help the Aged, Carers UK and Counsel and Care, published on September 12, also calling for an easier, sustainable and universal system of social care and funding.

The report, It's everybody's business, urged government ministers to address the crisis in social care. In a separate poll carried out on their behalf, half of respondents found the care system 'confusing' (51%) and 'depressing' (57%).

Kate Jopling, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, said: 'Many organisations all agree now on the prescription for social care – personalisation, simplification and investment. It is now up to the government to catch up so that we can all move on to the detail of how a simplified social care system can be delivered.'


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