The Big Care Debate closed last Friday (the 13th, ominously, for those of a superstitious bent) ending the consultation on the government’s green paper, Shaping the future of care together , which set out the government’s options for the future funding of adult social care.
Now, the Department of Health will go away and contemplate the results, before, in theory, coming back with a White Paper, possibly in early 2010.
But with an election looming, I wonder if any of it will actually get through and make it into law.
A spokesperson from the DH told me earlier in the year that if there is no consensus from the Big Care Debate on the best way forward, then it may go to a further period of consultation.
Looking at the reactions to the green paper from various groups, there seems to be little consensus; there have been criticisms, notably from mental health and learning disability groups, that the green paper focused on too much on older people. Indeed, much of the media focus has been on old age care funding and people not having to sell their homes to pay for residential care costs.
But then, older people’s groups, such as the National Pensioners’ Convention, have also voiced dismay over the government’s dismissal of the option to pay for care from direct taxation.
This option also found favour in a Joseph Rowntree Foundation survey. But then other organisations have supported the partnership and comprehensive models of funding the government suggested, which involve insurance and some state provision or the creation of a National Care Service.
If this is reflected among the wider responses, then we could be in for further consultation, which neatly kicks the debate into election time, when nothing concrete will happen because every politician will be scrapping for votes.
So, it seems like the social care industry will be in limbo for some time to come. And all the while the current regime will continue to creak along, and the problems within it will continue to mount, and – crucially – service users will continue to suffer at the hands of a much-disliked and over-complicated funding system.