Queen's Speech outlines plans to support older people
10 May 2013
The ‘Queen’s Speech’ is made at the official opening of Parliament each year and outlines the Government’s plans for new legislation.
This year’s speech, which was made earlier this week on 8 May, saw the Government promise to provide more support to relatives who care for older loved ones. It pledged £150 million to provide financial support, back-up help from professional carers or home adaptations to help carers support their relatives to remain in their own home. This is a big step, as it is the first time that carers will receive a legal ‘right’ to ask their local council for help and council’s will have a duty to promote this assistance.
Perhaps even more significantly, the Government formally announced its proposals to reform how social care is funded, particularly in old age. A new system of social care, from 2017, will see the taxpayer picking up the bills after someone has spent £75,000 of their own money on their care.
Whilst many will welcome these long overdue reforms, with an extra 450,000 people needing state help under the new system, there is concern that cuts to council’s budgets will make it impossible for local councils to deliver on the Government’s promises.
The costs of caring for older people in their own home are also inflated by the number of over 65s living in unsuitable accommodation. By contrast, residents of specialist retirement housing benefit from improved health and wellbeing. They have reduced rates of dementia, lower risks of injuries from trips and falls and spend far less time in hospital; saving the state thousands of pounds.
So, whilst the proposed reforms are welcomed, more needs to be done to address the housing needs of older people. 90% of an older person’s time is spent in their own home, so the type, condition and location of these homes are therefore fundamental to their wellbeing.