Tag Archives: Daily Mail

Scandal of selling homes to pay for care

Over the past few days, one of social care’s great recurring stories reappeared, as it seems to do every few months; the ‘scandal’ of old people having to sell their homes to pay for residential care and/or not being funded by the state for their care.

This time, it was the Daily Mail, which ran with a typically hyperbolic headline of ‘3,000 victims of home snatchers: Record numbers of elderly are forced to sell their homes to pay for care’ .

As usual with these stories, the gist was how scandalous it is that people who have worked hard all their lives to save money and/or buy a house now have to lose/sell it to pay for residential care in their old age, while people who never saved get it for free.

Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of this – there are good arguments on both sides – it again shows that politicians cannot afford to ignore this issue.

Social care has been getting a higher profile in recent months – the green paper on the future of adult social care funding was published in June, for instance – but little action has so far be forthcoming.

While Labour has announced its free personal care at home bill, this doesn’t address the problem of people having to pay for residential care and could even create other issues.

For example, it is likely to encourage older people to stay in their own homes for longer, knowing that if they move into residential care they will have to pay for it and possibly give up their home. As a result, some people may not go into care when they need to, and could suffer as a result, whether in the form of injuring themselves in an accident or fall, or in terms of isolation if they are housebound.

And for those who say ‘well, in Scotland they get it free’; they don’t. There, while the care element might be free, the ‘hotel’ costs of residential care – food, board and lodgings etc – isn’t, so many older people still have to stump up money to pay for their care, including selling their home.

This issue is hugely emotive and could become an issue in the upcoming election. Any party that offers a solution to this ‘problem’ would be onto a sure-fire vote-winner.

The options mooted thus far by Labour and the Conservatives involve insurance schemes, which involve paying a lump sum up front. Labour’s idea is a £20,000 scheme, which would cover the costs of personal care at home and residential care, and while the Tories’ response only costs £8,000, it just covers residential care.

The Liberals meanwhile have sat resolutely on the fence, calling for an all-party commission to come up with a solution, rather than posit any ideas of their own.

None of these options seem to have garnered much public approval so the way forward is unclear.

All it does mean is that the current system creaks on and the reform of it – desperately needed, as organisations within the sector have said time and again – is delayed again.

Perhaps if it does become an election issue, then something might get done. If not, then the Daily Mail, as well as the other national newspapers, will have a guaranteed headline article to publish every few months.

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Filed under adult social care, Social care funding

How Social Work Task Force report can tackle image of social work

Scanning the newspapers to gauge the reaction to yesterday’s final report from the Social Work Task Force, it is the comments from some of the public that caught my eye.

Most of the national newspapers I’ve seen have covered the report in a straight way – outlining the major reforms, along with comments from ministers. The BBC has also done roughly the same.

The Daily Mail has tried to put more of a spin on it, highlighting the recommendation for reforming the pay structure – Social workers to be given pay RISES in wake of Baby P scandal – rather than the recommendations to drive up standards. Interestingly, the article’s original headline contained the word ‘outrage’ but dropped it soon after, presumably due to the general lack of outrage.

But as usual, the comments at the bottom of the article include anti-social worker vitriol along the lines of ‘sack them all’ (among many others). Ignoring the ludicrousness of those sorts of statements, it nevertheless shows how much still needs to be done to improve the image of social workers in the public eye.

These sorts of comments appear at the bottom of many articles on social work – regardless of the newspaper – and highlight the deep-rooted prejudice that exists among some of the general public.

Tackling these perceptions will be incredibly difficult. The Task Force recommendations should help if they are driven through. It calls for a programme of public understanding, with greater openness and enhancing awareness of what social workers do and the contribution good social work makes to society.

This is key; I think a lot of anti-social worker feeling is down to misconceptions about what they do and the fact that it is only when it goes wrong that it is reported in the media – social workers seem to be painted as either child snatchers or uncaring box-tickers that ignore obvious abuse.

More campaigns along the lines of the one to improve recruitment seen earlier this year – and which created a huge spike in interest – are needed, as is a sustained feeding of ‘good news’ stories into the media.

Also, if the other recommendations do end up raising standards, the resulting better outcomes – and fewer poor outcomes, more significantly – will help to change the perception of social workers over time. Likewise, the number of damning newspaper articles would decrease.

Achieving this will take a sustained campaign over many years, but it needs to be done. Teachers’ status has been rehabilitated following similar campaigns in the past decade, and there is no reason that it can’t be done for social workers.

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Filed under adult social care, children's social work, social work training