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May 9, 2012

Don't Turn Your Back on the Elderly, PM Urged (UK)

 Don't turn your back on the elderly, PM urged: Impassioned plea from campaigners who fear Coalition won't tackle OAP care crisis
•    Charities warn inaction will condemn pensioners to lives of 'misery and fear'
•    Elderly care postcode lottery leaves many in 'quiet desperation', they say
•    Call to action comes amid fears care reform is on the policy back burner
 

By Daniel Martin
7 May 2012

David Cameron, the prime minister, has come under renewed pressure make reforms to the elderly care system his 'legacy to future generations'
David Cameron came under unprecedented pressure last night to transform provision of care for the elderly.
In an open letter, a coalition of 78 charities and campaign groups warned the Prime Minister that unless he acts, millions more pensioners will be condemned to a life of ‘misery and fear’.
They said that a postcode lottery of access to care is leaving many in ‘quiet desperation’, as hefty care bills put them at risk of losing ‘their savings, their dignity, their independence’.
They urged Mr Cameron to make urgent reform ‘your personal mission, your legacy to future generations’.
Their call for action comes amid fears that the issue has been placed on the back burner, with rumours that this week’s Queen’s Speech will not include a Bill on social care.
Under the current system, pensioners have to pay the cost of their own care if they have savings or assets worth more than £23,500.
It has led to the scandal of tens of thousands of pensioners every year having to sell their house to fund the costs of their residential care.
Countless others have to make  do with 15-minute home help visits, even though they need more assistance, because council services are  so under-funded.
A much-delayed White Paper on long-term care will be published in June, but it will focus on the quality of care provision, with the issue of paying for it relegated to a ‘progress’ document. There are also signs that a new funding system may not be fully in place until 2025.
Now a total of 78 organisations including Age UK, Saga, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services have banded together to write the open letter to the Prime Minister.
It says: ‘Social care is in crisis. The system is chronically under-funded and in urgent need of reform.
‘Without this, too many older and disabled people will be left in desperate circumstances: struggling on alone, living in misery and fear.’
The group praised Mr Cameron’s comments in March, when he said the current system can ‘leave people helpless, in the dark about their care and suffering massive losses as a result of care bills’.
But the Prime Minister was also warned that many years of failure to reform the system had had a ‘devastating impact’, not only on those in need of care, but also on their relatives, who can be forced to give up their jobs to look after a vulnerable family member.

 Abridged
SOURCE:       The Daily Mail, UK
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