Minister calls for neighbours to support older people
Published on 02 January 2013 12:00 PM
Rebuilding neighbourly support could help prevent older people from being pushed into care, according to Care Minister Norman Lamb.
The Liberal Democrat MP said families and neighbours should rally round to help older people remain independent and stay in their own homes for as long as possible.
Mr Lamb warned that expecting the state to 'do everything' made society 'neglectful' and resulted in older people being pushed into residential care unnecessarily.
He told the Daily Telegraph that a new cap on personal spending on care fees is due to be announced in the next few weeks.
A review by economist Andrew Dilnot recommended that a limit of between £25,000 and £50,000 would stop older people being forced to sell their homes to cover the cost of care.
The Government is reportedly looking at a number of options, including a cap of £75,000 and a £100,000.
But Mr Lamb said this new cap would not be an instant cure. He said living alone could be a 'dismal experience' and called on neighbours and families to provide support and companionship.
Mr Lamb added: 'With the right support and the right community resilience, and a rebuilding of the neighbour support that used to be there, more people could stay in their own homes for longer.'
Impact of the cuts
Shadow care minister Liz Kendall said the Government was making life harder for older people and their families by cutting local council care budgets.
These cuts mean fewer families are getting vital services like home help for free, while charges for home care, residential and respite care are increasing, she added.
Ms Kendall said families and friends needed more support to help them look after older and vulnerable people.
She said: 'Britain's 6 million unpaid family carers aren't being neglectful of their loved ones and they don't expect the state to do everything - far from it.
'Instead of blaming families for the care crisis, the Government should be facing up to its responsibilities by putting in place a decent and fair system for funding social care now and in future.'
Crisis runs deeper than a lack of neighbourly support
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said 'We do all need to play a part in making sure that no-one spends their last years of life isolated and lonely and part of that is being a good neighbour and friend to the older members of our community, helping out where we can.
'But the spiralling crisis in social care goes deeper than just a lack of neighbourly support for older people. Families and carers are being pushed to their limit trying to look after older loved ones as services are cut all over the country, leaving them physically and emotionally exhausted.
'Local authorities are struggling to protect frontline services in the face of stringent budget cuts and in many case cutting the early intervention support for older people that we know can prevent a difficulty in coping with everyday tasks spiralling into a crisis.
We are encouraged that the Government is at long last preparing to announce that it will implement the Dilnot proposals of a cap on social care costs, and hope that it will also seek to address the growing number of older people who are struggling to cope alone without the support that they need.'
Copyright Press Association 2013