A new report by Age UK - 'Why call it care when no one cares?' - summarises the results of a series of listening events the Charity has held with older people who are receiving care and their family carers over the last two months.
Some 127 people participated in 13 sessions in total, which took place in the North, Midlands and South of England, in urban and rural places, and in more affluent and poorer areas.
At each event, the local MP joined for the final hour to hear directly from their constituents. These events included the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Health and Care, and the Shadow Secretaries of State for Health and Social Care and of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The listening events, hosted by local Age UKs, had two parts:
- in the first older people and their family carers talked about their personal experiences of care, highlighted the problems they faced and what would make life better;
- and in the second they discussed various funding proposals and what they would mean for them and their families.
Most of the older people who took part and their family carers were receiving care at home, but some were receiving care in a care home or supporting a loved one there.
Although the listening events took place in very different places the same issues came up over and over again, showing that the problems facing adult social care are national.
The top five problems that older people and their family carers talked about at every listening event were:
- Too many professional carers are in a rush and there's no continuity
- Care often it isn't very good
- Social care is very expensive and often not good value for money
- We family carers feel abandoned and unsupported by the NHS and social care
- The social care system is dysfunctional and navigating it is a nightmare.
When it came to possible solutions and ways of funding a better social care system the top five points that older people and their family carers at these listening events made were:
- Everyone should contribute in some way
- We're only willing to pay more if we get a better service in return
- We want any extra funds that are raised to be ring-fenced for care
- We believe we need a new and better contract with family carers in our society
- We older people and our families desperately want security
Age UK Charity Director Caroline Abrahams said, 'Some commentators seem to think that "wealth taxes" are too controversial to be broached with the public but the older people and their families who took part in these sessions did not reject them out of hand: for example, they were prepared to contemplate a 5% levy on everyone's estates following death and an increase in general taxation, with the money raised being ring-fenced for social care.
"Older people and their families said that they would be prepared to pay more, but only if it was affordable and in exchange for better, less rushed care visits, with more continuity of staff, and more support for unpaid carers – in other words a properly functioning system offering reasonable value for money.
"They felt they had paid into the system and it should be there for them, and for everyone else if and when they needed it, so everyone should play a part in funding it, now and into the future."