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Social Care - Wales - Carers UK Forum

Social Care - Wales

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
http://tiny.cc/SocialCareWales

EVERY person in Wales could be forced to save to pay for care in their old age in a bid to fill a multi-million-pound funding gap.

Wales’ ageing population is set to spark a crisis in social care funding with an estimated £360m gap between the cost of services and available resources in 20 years’ time.

The Welsh Assembly Government will today launch a national debate on how to pay for social care in the future. The consultation will last until March and will focus on how the current system needs to change to meet people’s future needs. It will also examine the balance of responsibility that lies between the state, individuals and their families for funding care.

The Assembly Government will produce a Green Paper outlining a series of general proposals for future changes in the spring but it is unlikely that there will be any changes to the current system before 2011.

Gwenda Thomas, deputy minister for social services, said: “Almost every family in Wales faces the reality that people they love may need care and support because of age or disability.

“Because of major changes – both demographic and societal – we have to think very carefully about how the care system will need to change.

“What’s important to remember is that the care system isn’t something that only involves older people in society – nearly all of us will one day come into contact with the care system in one form or another.â€Â
http://tiny.cc/wales

SOCIAL care is the invisible relation of health care.

Few of us give it a thought until we – or a member of our family – need long-term support because of age, disability or illness.

In the same way that we are now faced with difficult questions about the future of health care, not least because of the advent of expensive new technologies and treatments, we face similar questions about social care. Wales has a rapidly ageing population. In the next 10 years there will be more than half a million people aged 65 to 84, an increase of 24%.

By 2018 the over-85 population will increase by 29% to some 93,000 people. Life-expectancy also continues to increase. In some respects this is the ultimate success story of the NHS – 60 years of a health service, which is free at the point of delivery, has meant the whole population has benefited from advances in medicine.

But along with this comes significant associated costs in the form of social care and the question of how we pay for caring for the sizeable proportion of the population who need daily help.

It is a question that few of us will have given thought to, in the same way that large numbers of us have yet to consider our eventual retirement and pension plans.

And yet, as we continue to get older, as the birthrate declines and as the traditional nuclear family becomes more dispersed, this is a question that we need to be considering now.

The current system, whereby people with assets above a certain threshold pay for their social care, has been in place for decades but it is clear that it will not be able to cope with the increasing demands put upon it by demographic and population change.

It is estimated that there will be a £6bn funding gap between the cost of care and the resources available in 20 years’ time in the UK. On population figures alone, this equates to more than £300m in Wales before we take into account the greater number of older people living within the nation’s borders.

If this gap is not plugged it is conceivable that the social care thousands depend on every day – from home help and meals on wheels to round-the-clock specialist nursing care – could become a rarity rather than the norm. The Welsh Assembly Government today launches a national debate which will potentially pave the way to legislative change to ensure that the nation can meet the cost of care.

For a nation accustomed to the cushion of the welfare state, this will naturally include such thorny issues about private insurance, government-enforced saving schemes and releasing the equity tied up in our homes to meet our needs. But this is a discussion that we all need to have, and take part in, before it is too late to make any changes.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/wales_ ... 720222.stm

Given the scale and complexity of a care system made up of devolved and non-devolved elements combined with tax, health and benefits issues and reforms could take much longer.