Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Care for us all when old.

We are all living longer. How we are to be looked after in our old age is an important question. We need to consider the care we provide and whether it is best suited to our needs.

The first priorities should be quality of life of the elderly, their dignity and respect. Where possible we should aim to allow people to live in their own homes, whilst recognising that in some circumstances this may not be in the best interest of the person.

Care for the elderly in this country is currently shared between the local council and the NHS, but this can lead to conflict of interest, and the lack of a joined up policy. The role of the local doctor is also important in providing quality care for the elderly.

My suggestion new unified regional authorities need to be set up to look after primary care of the elderly. Their priorities would be to ensure early intervention to ensure the health of the elderly and that where possible they can live in comfort at their homes.

Each elderly person would have a guaranteed care package (including a guaranteed improvement grant up to a maximum figure), on which they could draw, should the need arise without having to worry about any savings they may have. Those who wanted could then purchase extra insurance to opt for a better care package, more choices in terms of who treats them for example.

The Elderly Care Authority, in example, would manage short stay homes, to allow for respite care or for short-term care following treatment at hospital. They would employ their own specialist nurses and carers.

The local Doctor would have an important role in setting the standards and in forecasting the future care requirements of their patients, so that informed decisions could be made.

Remember the Elderly Care Authority need not necessarily be a public body, it could be a private firm, a not for profit trust or a charity. I recognise that there are many failings in the care of the elderly in the private sector, some of which are serious, but the same can be said of the public sector. We would need a different model on how we award or give bonuses each year of a contract.

The contract success would be judged on a health and well being satisfaction index of those cared for, the better the care and satisfaction of the elderly the larger the bonus. It should be a contract based on the quality of care provided and not the cost of the contract to the state.

What’s important is that care for the elderly is easy to understand, accessible and available, and that we put care back into the heart of any policy on caring for the elderly.

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