Who Cares? The Future of Adult Care and Support

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The DHSSPS have indicated that they plan to undertake a review of the future direction of adult care, funding and support over the next two to three years.

The consultation paper Who Cares? The Future of Adult Care and Support in Northern Ireland was published in August 2012. The Minister in response to a question recently said,

“It is widely accepted that issues such as an ageing population, increased public expectations and a difficult financial climate are putting adult social care provision in Northern Ireland under increasing pressure. If we are to meet the challenges that these issues present, change is needed, and that is why I have committed to a three stage process of reform to identify the future direction of adult social care.” (AQW 1357/11-15)

Key Themes of the Review

The key themes are likely to centre on why care and support is under growing pressure and suggest that changing demographics, the lack of understanding of the existing system of social care, the fiscal environment and expectations of people are the reasons for this pressure.  The initial discussion paper is also expected to highlight the role that other departments and agencies play in the provision of social care, including housing and benefits, as well as private, independent and voluntary sector providers.

Balance of Responsibility

The initial discussion paper is likely to include how social care is funded and where the balance of responsibility lie in the future The paper is likely to highlight that some service users face potentially high care costs, while other users pay nothing and questions whether disability benefits should contribute to the costs of social care.  The paper will refer to the necessity of finding a fair, sustainable and efficient way to fund and provide care and support in the future.

Stages of the Review

The DHSSPS have indicated that this is a three-stage process of reviewing the current social care system and establishing the strategic direction of reform:

I. Discussion Document
This has been published and a number of public consultation events will take place.

II. Proposals Document
This will take account of the responses and comments from the above exercise on the discussion paper.

III. Strategy
A strategic document will be produced later in 2013 and subject to a further public consultation exercise with a final strategy expected by the end of 2013 early 2014.

Link to Transforming Your Care (TYC) - Compton

It is unclear at this stage how the recommendations from the ‘TYC Report’ link into this review.  However, TYC is a ‘service review’ whilst the DHSSPS Review is pitched at the strategic policy level. It is this Review that has the potential to provide the comprehensive package of legal, policy and social reform that is needed for a fundamental review of social care.

Next page: Social Care Reform in Great Britain

Age NI Advice Line:
0808 808 7575

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