A few plasters won’t fix our broken social care system

At last social care has become a hot political topic in an election. Our politicians have woken up to the warnings the sector have been issuing for decades. But with a broken system a few sticking plasters wont suffice, it’s time for a total rethink.

From party leaders to candidates on the door step they are all talking about social care. It’s made the headlines of all the manifestos, whatever colour they may be. It is well time that this country had a national debate on social care. Change and action is long overdue.

I have read the manifestos. I have heard the politicians. I have scoured the media. All I hear to date in the build up to this election is talk about moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It is short term approaches. Vote winning soundbites. Different ways of shifting funding around to address the same problem.

The disappointment for me is no one has stood up and talked about the much-needed game changer that will make a real difference.

The game changer opportunity was on the table but disappointingly put on hold by the government. It now seems to have disappeared off the radar.

Developed by economist Andrew Dilnot the principle idea was the development of a cap on the amount an individual would have to pay for their own care costs during their lifetime. In all other areas of our lives we ‘pool’ that sort of risk through either private insurance on our car, holiday or health or we rely on state provision for health but in the case of social care we are left with a big uncertain unknown. Most of us will face some social care needs in the future and for a minority these may be very high.

What Dilnot proposed was game changing. For the first time, ever, people could be protected from limitless care bills. With the introduction of a cap you provide some certainty. The limitless costs of social care becomes a known entity. In turn we could see the introduction of a new raft of products that will enable us to insure against the pooled risk of social care.

As the system stands that can’t happen. Who will insure against something that is limitless?

Whilst Dilnot’s proposals were not flawless, they did more than shift around the furniture. They were the first breath of fresh air the sector has seen. A real opportunity for us as a society to think differently and plan for social care.

The truth is we can’t and never will be able to afford a national social care system, free at the point of access for those who need it. Whatever the politicians tell you to win your vote, there is no magic fix when it comes to social care funding. That is even more reason why they need to be bold and make some game changing decisions.

Here at Jewish Care we will work together to continue to do all we can to provide care for our community, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. Thanks to our generous supporters we can continue to plug the growing gap between funding we receive and the true cost of quality care.

We are a caring community and amongst all this election bravado this is for many is a saving grace.

About the Author
Simon Morris is Chief Executive, Jewish Care
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