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Elderly to get free personal care

30th September 2009

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged that free personal care will be introduced by the middle of next year to enable the frailest to be cared for in their own home.

Old Hands

Under measures announced by the PM at the Labour Party Conference, about 350,000 people with the highest needs would receive home care regardless of their wealth.

At present, state care is only available to those with less than £23,500 in savings.

Under the plan, the National Care Service will bring together the NHS and local authorities which currently provide social services.

Money will be diverted from lower priority areas of the NHS such as marketing to pay for the initiative, costing around £400m.

Mr Brown said more people saw their dignity diminish as they suffered conditions such as dementia.

“For too many families the challenge of coping with the heartbreak is made worse by the costs of getting support,” he added.

But head of police Andrew Harrop said: "It will be essential that councils are properly funded to provide this care so that there is not an incentive for them to push older people into care homes or claim that their needs are not critical enough to warrant free care at home."

The King's Fund warned that the “the devil will be in the detail" of the initiative.

Meanwhile, Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "We now need to hear the substance behind the sound bite. What is meant by 'highest needs' and what criteria will be used to judge this?"

 

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