Is free personal care part of the solution for the mounting social care crisis?

May 2, 2019
Admiral Nurses at the Parliamentary drop-in event

Our Director of Clinical Services, Paul Edwards, Admiral Nurse, Vicky Loewer, and Campaigns Manager, Faradane O’Callaghan, talked to a number of MPs and members of the House of Lords about the benefits free personal care could give families living with dementia. They also talked about the work of Admiral Nurses in supporting families.

We support Independent Age, the older peoples’ charity, in their campaign to introduce free personal care in England.

The current social care system is failing thousands of families, not least those living with the life-limiting effects of dementia. We clearly need a workable solution which bridges political party divides, not only to end the ongoing debate around long-term, sustainable social care funding; but also to provide relief to families. One of these solutions could very well include the provision of free personal care.

We know that people are in the dark about the kind of support they’re entitled to

Personal care encompasses routines like getting dressed, washing and going to the toilet. It can cause emotional and practical stresses for both the family carer and person with dementia. Incontinence for example can be the ‘final straw’ and a reason for long-term residential care.  Through calls to our Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline we know that people are in the dark about the kind of support they’re entitled to and many families are left spending huge amounts of their own money on this essential care.

However, there are situations when getting access to the funds for care can prove difficult for families. Getting a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) set up, which allows health and financial decisions to be made for someone who has lost capacity, can prove difficult due to lack of information. There are even situations where the person with dementia does not feel they need care. This means that families are unable to get access to funds to pay for support.

Free personal care can have vital long term benefits

Families with dementia as well as other long-term health conditions do not need caps or limitations on the provision of care. Free personal care can have vital long term benefits, including keeping people at home for longer and therefore delaying or reducing the need for residential care, and the huge financial strains this long-term care cost can have on families. Having access to professional carers can be another huge basis of support for families. They can help alleviate problems before they reach a crisis point as well as provide valuable moments of connectivity for the person with dementia and the family carers through their regular visits.

Politicians urgently need to realise that we have reached a crisis in dementia care, with the number of people projected to be diagnosed getting bigger and bigger. A cross-party approach is essential for a fair and sustainable social care funding solution. Free personal care could provide this as well as being a significant part of the long-delayed Social Care Green Paper.

Dementia Helpline

The Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline is for anyone with a question or concern about dementia

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Support us

Find out how you can support Dementia UK, to provide specialist Admiral Nurses to families affected by dementia

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