News archive 2002
King's study reveals unfair treatment for older people who pay for residential care27 Mar 2002, PR 10/02
Older people who pay for a care home place in England and Wales are unlikely to receive fair treatment at the hands of their local authority, reveals a report published today.
The report, Asset stripping: Local authorities and older homeowners paying for a care home place, details the findings of research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, into the experiences of older homeowners who fund their residential care.
The author of the report, Dr Fay Wright, Senior Fellow at the Age Concern Institute of Gerontology, King's College London, says: "Older people able to pay privately lose out in the current social care market. Their interests should receive far greater protection. It is important that they get a fairer deal."
The report found that many older people with assets in excess of the upper capital limit of £18,500 (beyond which they are not entitled to a local authority funded care home place) do not receive a needs assessment from their local authority to determine whether residential or some other form of supported care is the best option for them. This is despite Department of Health guidance that they should do so. Given today's house prices, virtually all older homeowners living alone will have to use money from the sale of the property to meet care home costs in full.
The study found that many local authorities actively employ strategies to discourage older people with assets over the upper capital limit from pursuing a needs assessment, and that many older people and their relatives were not aware that a needs assessment could be provided. They were missing out on advice about alternatives to residential care, such as support services at home or moving into sheltered housing.
The report also found that older homeowners and their relatives were as likely to approach care home providers as local authority care managers for advice about the appropriateness of that older person moving into residential care. As self-funding residents usually pay considerably more per week than the average paid by local authorities, care home providers have a vested interest in admitting privately paying residents. Such advice, the report concludes, is not likely to be impartial.
The study shows huge variation in the circumstances in which local authorities will make a contract with an independent care home provider for an older person funding their own residential care. Local authority contracts are usually better than contracts made by an individual payer, as the local authority can monitor the quality of the placement, check contract compliance and review a resident's wellbeing. In addition, the report found that many individuals were unaware that local authorities could negotiate contracts on their behalf.
Overall, the report found enormous variation in local authority policies and practices, which raise serious questions about the wellbeing of frail older residents in the current tense market situation.
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is the fourth oldest university in England with more than 13,700 undergraduates and nearly 5,600 graduate students in nine schools of study based at five London campuses. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, international relations, medicine, nursing and the sciences, and has played major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of health care professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres – more than any other university.
King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of more than £114 million, and has anannual income of more than £369 million.
Local authorities and older homeowners paying for a care home place, by Fay Wright, is published by The Policy Press. Fay Wright is a Senior Teaching and Research Fellow at the Age Concern Institute of Gerontology, King's College London.
The report is available from: Marston Book Services, PO Box 269, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4YN. Tel: 01235 465500 Fax: 01235 465556. Price £14.99 (plus £2.50 p&p).
Please contact: Helen Bolton or Julia Mortimer at The Policy Press. Tel: 0117 954 6800
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