Scottish Government Moves on Care for Older People

Only the most politically aware and committed older folk will have waded through the Scottish Government’s recent publication “Reshaping Care for Older People, A programme for Change 2011-  2012”.   Certainly it does not provide gripping reading for the layman although no doubt many NHS and Social work professionals will find it riveting. In some ways it is almost impossible to summarise for the public much of the document since it relates to changes in approach and methods within the NHS and other bodies.  However, in the broadest of terms the Scottish government document implicitly accepts, that maintaining care standards for the elderly in future is going to be a massive challeng, due to two overriding factors.  First, the need for care is bound to increase hugely in the future due simply to the increasing numbers of older people living longer. Second, this increasing care requirement is going to have to be met out of budgets which are under pressure already and likely to become more so in the future. So how is the trick of providing more care, to more people, at less cost to be pulled off?  Very broadly it seems that as quasi reorganisation of how care is to be delivered is being attempted – to make every pound go a bit further.  There is lots of stress on pulling in other resources with the third and independent sector cooperating with Local Authorities and National bodies.  Shades of Mr Cameron’s Big Society perhaps.  But cutting through the jargon it seems that a principal goal is to provide care in the home – which should frankly be cheaper to provide.  Alongside that is to be a concentration on preventative measures which would keep older people in their homes.  These would involve more community support and home adaptations as well as providing more support to carers.  Since for older people staying at home  would probably be the most desirable outcome it would appear for once that perhaps the most popular policy should turn out to be financially the most efficient. As an interesting aside the place of Equity Release being a way of older people helping fund themselves in retiral is given a brief acknowledgement in the publication.  At Caesar and Howie we see this first hand as our Equity Release team has never been busier.   But where the public seem to be picking up on the desirability of equity release  – too many of the public still fail to take the simple step of preparing a Power of Attorney to ensure someone has powers to take steps to look after them and their affairs should incapacity strike. With countless thousands of bed days being taken up in our hospitals by folk who cannot be moved till a guardianship application wends its way though the court – maybe the Scottish Government could save the NHS a fortune by giving free legal aid for adults to have a Power of Attorney done – thereby stopping the bed blocking at source!  However joking apart – the challenge of care for older people in the future is indeed massive and will be for whatever government is in power.  Hopefully if some of the proposed changes work – at least a start on dealing with this huge issue will have been made. David Borrowman Caesar and Howie Managing Partner