The 58-page paper published by the Institute for Public Policy Research, The Generation Strain: Collective Solutions to Care in an Ageing Society, found that the introduction of personal budgets, which can be managed by councils on behalf of individuals to pay for care needs, have done little to improve the quality of care provision.
The report said people were less likely to take up direct payments made by councils, allowing them to choose which services they would like to use, despite this route leading to better outcomes.
As well as encouraging greater take-up of direct payments, the think-tank called for more third-party organisations, rather than councils, to oversee shared budgets, drawing on a collective pool of money contributed by the local community to pay for care. The report also advocated a five-year funding settlement for local government to allow care providers to “plan strategically, reprioritise spending and reorganise resources”.
It also called for stronger employment rights for family members who provide care, saying that those who work should have the right to adjust their hours or role while keeping their carers allowance. The report suggested that the UK copies the German ‘Family Caring Time’ policy, which allows employees to have six months of unpaid long-term care leave followed by up to two years of reduced working hours.
The proposals came as the think-tank warned that the number of older people in England needing care will outstrip the number of family members able to provide it by 2017.
Janet Davies, co-founder of Symponia, the network for long-term care advisers, said: “Increases to the cost of care have historically [since 1999] increased at a higher rate than the average, but for the most part this has been tied into the ongoing changes within the care sector.
“However, in all honesty just getting clients to even think about let alone tackle the subject of their potential future care is the bigger problem.”
Key points from the generation strain report
KEY POINTS FROM THE GENERATIONS STRAIN REPORT
|- New ‘neighbourhood networks’, funded by a £2m grant from local authorities, could help older people to stay active and healthy for longer|
|- Social workers who provide ‘case management’ for individuals in need of care should be scrapped in favour of care coordinators|
|- Shared budgets, managed by third-party organisations, could be created by pooling money from the local community|
|- Family members who wish to keep working while caring for loved ones should have more flexible working terms|
|- 230,000 older people who need intense care of more than 20 hours a week could be left to cope alone by 2030|