I attended a House of Lords event last week (4 June) where Care Services Minister Norman Lamb discussed the draft Care Bill currently going through parliament.

According to Mr Lamb, the introduction of the Bill will see a shift from the current paternalistic approach to care and support to a more personal system with a focus on prevention instead of cure.  The aim is to have the care and support system working more efficiently, saving $20bn in this Parliament and same again in the next.

A standout initiative is the focus on wellbeing and independence with the goal of preventing, delaying or reducing care needs. It’s time the system moved away from treating the symptoms and focussed on helping the individual, but for this to work we need a clear definition of wellbeing that is measured consistently by local authorities.

Empowering individuals to make their own choices about their care and support needs by giving them control of their personal budget is also a step forward. It’s madness that adults who have spent their entire life making major decisions that impact them and their family haven’t been given this freedom previously.

We also welcome the move to encourage integration and innovation. Integrating services like housing with care and support makes perfect sense. However, innovation will occur when there is finance is available for the market to provide different options and there is a further relaxation in planning.

The reintroduction of Care Quality Commission quality ratings, possibly alongside Trip Advisor style commentary, is also an important step. Currently local authorities are commissioning services purely based on price, generally opting for the lowest cost, which is reflected in the quality of care.   Trip Advisor style feedback will force openness and transparency, core Evermore values, and will truly make providers focus on top quality customer service.

A critical issue missing from the Care Bill is encouraging more people to plan earlier for their older, old age.  This could be a part of the information and advisory service provided by local authorities and will help address the crisis-point decision making that currently occurs.

Overall we are supportive of any measure that encourages people to retain their independence and individuality in their later life.  We need to remember, age may change a person physically but inside they’re still the same.

Sara McKee

NB: Further information about the Care Bill is available via these factsheets.