Latest figures highlight “postcode lottery” for elderly and disabled care

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Latest figures highlight “postcode lottery” for elderly and disabled care

17th May 2012

New figures obtained under Freedom of Information requests have served to highlight inadequacies in the state care funding system, according to a specialist spinal injuries lawyer.

Jonathan Fogerty, an associate with Fentons Solicitors LLP and also Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Spinal Injuries Association, said that failings across the system meant the levels of care provided by the state was widely divergent for far too many of the UK’s elderly and disabled people.

He was speaking after the BBC reported that the number of elderly people in England receiving council-funded care had fallen by 11% in the last two years. “It is not just elderly care that has seen this sharp drop, but it is the same for younger people with disabilities,” said Jonathan. “Too often it is a postcode lottery as to who receives funded care, with a lack of real decision-making in the final outcome of patient entitlement.”

The fall in the number of those receiving free care comes despite increasing growth in the disabled and elderly population. “We have been saying for a long time that the system needs urgent reform,” said Jonathan, who was himself spinally injured as a teenager. “While the government keeps telling us that ministers are looking into it, more and more disabled people are being squeezed out of receiving care by eligibility criteria as councils are forced to tighten their belts.”

The data showed that the number of councils capping the amount a person has to pay for their care has reduced in recent years – while average fees have conversely risen to £13.61 an hour for home care.

“It has been clear for some time that whilst we face an ever-increasing rise in the number of older and younger people with disabilities needing care, the amount of resources that are being dedicated to meet this need is simply not enough,” said Jonathan. “We’ve now reached the hugely unsatisfactory point where less and less people are actually getting the care that they need, whilst those that do are having to pay even more for it.

“Urgent reform is needed to prevent the situation getting much worse,” said Jonathan. “It will be interesting to read the government white paper on the future of social care in this country, to learn more about what the proposals for reform actually are.”

Read more at: BBC News