New health and social care levy 'won't help dementia sufferers for years'


A report by the Health and Social Care Committee, led by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said it is 'unacceptable' that people living with the condition remain 'unprotected from unlimited costs'

A report by the Health and Social Care Committee, led by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said it is ‘unacceptable’ that people living with the condition remain ‘unprotected from unlimited costs’

Thousands of dementia sufferers will rack up tens of thousands of pounds up in care costs before the Government’s health and social levy finally comes in, a damning report has warned.

Even when the policy takes effect in 2023, it will take the average dementia patient three and a half years to qualify for the subsidies.

The report by a Commons committee, led by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, found it was ‘unacceptable’ that people living with the condition will remain ‘unprotected from unlimited costs’, despite being among the most in need of financial support.

The report called for ‘significant additional investment’ in the sector is required within weeks, as well as a ‘bold funding reform and long-term plan’.  

Last month Boris Johnson claimed that nobody in England will have to pay more than £86,000 in their lifetime to fund their care in later life as part of his controversial £12billion-a-year reforms raised through a 1.25 per cent hike in national insurance.

But only those who have been deemed most frail and in need by their local council will be eligible for the subsidies.

Even those who are accepted will have to wait until 2023, when the cap on care payments is introduced, meaning those dependent on care now will not recoup any of the costs they rack up over the next two years.

And the subsisidies will not include ‘living costs’ in care homes, such as food, energy bills and the accommodation.

The average care home in England costs in total about £36,000 a year for each resident, with £12,000 of this going towards daily living costs.

That means it would take the average care home resident more than three and a half years to hit the cap. For those in care now, that would mean waiting another nearly six years.

Yet official figures show half of care home residents die within a year of entering the facility, with three-quarters passing away within three years. 

The above graph shows that half of people who go into care homes die within a year, and three quarters die within three years. Less than 10 per cent of residents currently in homes will live for six years, long enough to take advantage of the cap, which comes into force in October 2023

The above graph shows that half of people who go into care homes die within a year, and three quarters die within three years. Less than 10 per cent of residents currently in homes will live for six years, long enough to take advantage of the cap, which comes into force in October 2023

The above graph shows life expectancy for people in a care home by whether they fund the care themselves (red line) or receive support (green line). It suggests that self-funders live slightly longer on average, compared to the other group. After 12 months in a home, around 30 per cent of people who are paying for their care home will have died, while 35 per cent of those supported by authorities will have passed away

The above graph shows life expectancy for people in a care home by whether they fund the care themselves (red line) or receive support (green line). It suggests that self-funders live slightly longer on average, compared to the other group. After 12 months in a home, around 30 per cent of people who are paying for their care home will have died, while 35 per cent of those supported by authorities will have passed away

The report follows the committee’s inquiry into how the social care system supports people with dementia — one of the UK’s leading causes of death. 

Around 800,000 Britons and six million Americans are living with dementia. 

WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT ROBS SUFFERERS OF THEIR MEMORIES 

A GLOBAL CONCERN 

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) which impact memory, thinking and behaviour. 

There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.

Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.

Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.

Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?

The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s.

It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million.

In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.

As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.

Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.

IS THERE A CURE?

Currently there is no cure for dementia.

But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.

Source: Alzheimer’s Society

 

It comes as the social care sector is in crisis due to staff shortages. Industry bosses revealed last week they have been forced to reject requests from nearly 5,000 people over the last six weeks due to a lack of workers.

The committee warned that for the next three years, the vast majority of the money raised from the tax will go to the NHS, and the social care budget will be increased by less than £2billion a year.

When the Government announced the cap, critics warned that the NHS was a ‘black hole’ that would ‘swallow any money spent on it, leaving nothing extra for social care’. They also said if the NHS goes on a recruitment spree to plug staffing gaps then a higher budget will become ‘baked into the system’. 

The report states: ‘The Government’s 2019 general election manifesto included a pledge to “guarantee that no one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it”.

‘However, until the new cap is introduced, those with dementia continue to face unlimited costs for their social care.’

It adds: ‘Those living with dementia remain unprotected from unlimited costs and navigating the system is burdensome for those providing support. 

‘This is unacceptable and it is therefore essential the Government’s white paper addresses these issues with full reform of the social care system.’

The Government is due to publish a social care white paper — policy documents produced by ministers, setting out proposals for future legislation — later this year.

MPs said in the report they are ‘disappointed’ the Government hasn’t provided more funding for social care for the next three years and has given ‘no clarity’ on how much of the funds raised from the next tax will go to social care.

They said the sector needs an extra £7billion per year by 2023 in response to the ageing population, to increase social care staff pay in line with the national minimum wage and to ‘protected people who face catastrophic social care costs’.  

Until the Government releases details on how much funding social care will receive the committee said it ‘remains concerned that there will be not be enough core funding for social care to deliver the transformation needed for families living with dementia’, they added.

The cap has come under criticism since it was announced, because not all costs a person pays for their care will contribute to the £86,000 sum. 

The average care home in England costs in total about £36,000 a year for each resident, with £12,000 of this going towards daily living costs, which will not be included in the cap.

This means frail elderly people who reach the cap could still be left paying £1,000 a month for food and accommodation. 

And it will take the average care home resident more than three and a half years to hit the cap. For those in care now, that would mean waiting another nearly six years.

Yet official figures show half of care home residents die within a year of entering the facility, with three-quarters passing away within three years.

The Government already steps in to cover the cost of care ifsomeone’s assets fall below £23,250, including their savings and any propertythey own. But it will not count someone’s property in their assets if a family member is still living in it. 

Spending on care will count towards Boris Johnson's cap only if they are judged to need the support by the council. The above graph shows local authority spending on social care per adult in England from 2005 to 2019. Councils stuck to a strict budget, with spending varying between £400 and £500 per year over the 14-year period

Spending on care will count towards Boris Johnson’s cap only if they are judged to need the support by the council. The above graph shows local authority spending on social care per adult in England from 2005 to 2019. Councils stuck to a strict budget, with spending varying between £400 and £500 per year over the 14-year period 

Man forced to sell his mother’s home to cover social care costs after ‘harrowing’ battle with local authorities

Jonathan Freeman told the committee how he was forced to sell his mother’s three-bedroom home after years fighting to get funding for her care.

Gillian Freeman, who died in January at the age of 81, developed dementia in 2012 and moved into a care home shortly after.

Mr Freeman, 51, faced a ‘harrowing’ battle with local authorities to get funding – but found they would come up with ‘any possible excuse not to provide financial support’.

He said: ‘The whole process is utterly outrageous. No support whatsoever was provided for mum.’ Eventually, Mr Freeman had to sell their family home in Wiltshire to fund the £5,000-a-month cost of her nursing care as his mother’s lifetime savings ran out.

He said: ‘Despite being modest schoolteachers, my parents had saved up to make sure that they could look after themselves and their family moving forward.

‘I could see that by renting her house out, one month of rent would cover less than one week of care home fees.

Mr Freeman told MPs: ‘I had no choice but to sell her home to make sure that we could continue to pay the fees.

‘I wanted to be there to support my mum. I did not want to have to spend my time worrying about her finances and arguing with bureaucracies for what I think should be a basic right.’

Once someone has reached the cap or had their assets fallbelow £23,250, local authorities will then step in to cover the costs of theircare. On average, Britain’s have pension pots amount to £61,000. 

Meanwhile, the report warned also warned that, while the cap will help around 150,000 families per year, those with ‘modest assets and high care needs will still risk losing a high proportion of their wealth in the future’.

The Health Foundation estimated someone with a £125,000 house will lose half the value of their home through social care costs.

And the Alzheimer’s Society told the committee the ‘dementia tax’ — the average amount a person with the condition has to pay for their care — would take 125 years to save for.

Dementia is unfairly impacted compared to other conditions, such as cancer and heart disease, because medical treatments exist for these diseases, so they do not have to pay for support, it said.

The report also criticised the complex care pathways and ‘burdensome bureaucracy’ dementia patients and their carers have to grapple with, which is ‘unfair, confusing, demeaning, and frightening’.

The MPs heard how Jonathan Freeman was forced to sell his mother’s three-bedroom home after years fighting to get funding for her care.

Gillian Freeman, who died in January at the age of 81, developed dementia in 2012 and moved into a care home shortly after.

Mr Freeman, 51, faced a ‘harrowing’ battle with local authorities to get funding – but found they would come up with ‘any possible excuse not to provide financial support’.

The cross-party group of MPs who wrote the report also called for the Department of Health to develop guidance on the care and support people living with dementia should expect to receive.

The Government should also collect data on dementia diagnosis and treatment to ‘monitor activity and support improvement’, the report states. 

The report authors said reforms to social care should be implemented to reduce the 30 per cent turnover rate and warned the Government recently announcement plans to spend £500million on the social care workforce is ‘unlikely to address these issues’.

Responding to the report, Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at Alzheimer’s Society, said the report ‘underlines just how intolerable the broken social care system is making the lives of people with dementia across this country’. 

She said: ‘We fully back the Committee’s call for far more investment, and a long-term plan for the social care sector, as well as training, pay and progression to create a strong care workforce – that can finally deliver the quality care people with dementia have been crying out for and denied for too long.’

Ms Carragher added that the budget this week contained ‘barely enough funding’ to keep social care afloat until the extra cash becomes available in 2023.

The budget set out extra funding for local authorities, but did not specify how much will be given to social care.  

Health spending will have increased by 40 PER CENT from 2010 to 2025 while education budgets will have gone up by less than THREE PER CENT, says IFS think tank as it questions Rishi’s commitment to ‘levelling up’ 

Health spending will have increased by more than 40 per cent from 2010 to 2025 while education budgets will have gone up by less than three per cent, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said yesterday.  

The IFS said the updated spending figures following Rishi Sunak’s Budget this week showed there has been a ‘remarkable lack of priority afforded to the education system since 2010’. 

The influential think tank questioned how the education funding levels are ‘consistent’ with the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Downing Street said the Government ‘makes no apologies’ for boosting health spending, insisting it is ‘something the public want to see’.  

Paul Johnson, the director of the IFS, said this morning that Whitehall departmental funding increases contained within the Budget are ‘real and substantial’.

He said no department is seeing a cut to its overall budget but ‘for many areas’ the spending levels will still be ‘substantially less in 2024-25 than it was back in 2010’.

He said: ‘Perhaps the most striking contrast lies in the different paths for health and education spending. 

‘Over this spending review period education spending is set to rise by about 2% a year against a 4% a year increase for the department for health and social care. 

‘Over the whole period since 2010, by contrast, health spending will have increased by over 40%, education spending by less than 3%. 

‘For the Chancellor to have felt it appropriate to draw attention to the fact that per pupil spending in schools will have returned to 2010 levels by 2024 is perhaps a statement of a remarkable lack of priority afforded to the education system since 2010. 

‘A decade and a half with no growth in spending despite, albeit insipid, economic growth is unprecedented. 

‘Spending per student in FE and sixth form colleges will remain well below 2010 levels. This is not a set of priorities which looks consistent with a long term growth strategy. Or indeed levelling up.’ 

Downing Street defended the Government’s spending priorities as the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: ‘I think the Government is responding to the reality of the situation we find ourselves in and I think the IFS has made that point themselves.’  

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