Monday, November 01, 2010


From time- to- time I post about current social issues.   The myth of free personal care for the elderly and vulnerable people  in Scotland was constantly peddled.  A few people spelt out the truth. It did not suit either the media or politicians of various persuasions to examine the truth of the matter.

Scottish elderly and other vulnerable people, who needed residential care, had certain benefits clawed back by the authorities, that their counterparts in the rest of the British Isles were able to keep. By this means, there was a major chunk of contribution being paid to that mythical free personal care. We worked out that a relative was left with a really tiny sum of benefits from allowances that other British people retained. We did not complain or moan about inequities; we did complain about the iniquity of the claim that there was free personal care. 

With the straightened fiscal times we are in, there will be, I am sure total clawback of certain types of state support, and with it, very little personal care, even for people trying to remain in their own homes, (an economic option) will exist.

Various social care organisations and charities now spell out the dreadful scenarios for the elderly and vulnerable individuals of all age groups in the community U.K wide.  Local authorities, who have severely restricted budgets, will no longer be able to provide home-help and arrange for such invaluable support like respite care for carers, (if any is left). The worrying picture painted, is likely to be so. 

There have been limitations of service by changing the definition of what constitutes 'severe or critical need' for a very long time.  It is more commonly known as moving the goal posts.  Re-defining needs is likely to be played with much more. 

Home help provision where I live, used to be means tested help.  If you were over a certain low income level, you contributed to the cost of the service.   That was generally accepted, until the calculation of the contribution changed to a vastly increased fixed hourly rate, irrespective of the individual's circumstances or personal means. The local authority service provision was in this manner, priced out of the pockets of those who needed it. It became more affordable to seek un-vetted home help support from private sources, if you could find it. 

In urban areas, agencies sprung up under contract to social service departments. This was economic outsourcing. Their service levels and quality of work were of concern. The same applied to care homes, whose services had mushroomed as private enterprise, since the 1980's. 

To counter the worrying standards of care, Care Commissions were set up in recent years, to inspect and regulate standards of practice training and qualification. They were always an imperfect tool, but their existence was preferable to not having any standards at all to work to. Their budgets are slashed too.

As a humane nation, we did get used to knowing that the vulnerable in our society would be cared for. We are uncomfortable with the growing truth that this is unlikely to continue to be so.

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