Majority of people in social care have no idea how much their care costs, survey shows

Findings prompt concerns 'complex' social care system adopted by councils prevents people managing their own care provision, say experts

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The Independent Online

The majority of elderly people in social care have no idea how much it costs, new findings show, prompting concerns local councils are not doing enough to help people manage their own care provision.

A survey of 2,000 people within the sector showed a lack of knowledge among those being cared for, with 71 per cent saying they had “no idea and couldn’t even guess” the cost of their care and only 5 per cent knowing the figure precisely.

The findings, collected by solution provider for local authority adult social care Younifi, showed that when asked who was responsible for their care, a third of those being cared for said it was themselves, while 26 per cent said it was their family and friends and 24 per cent said it was the NHS or local authorities.

However, 68 per cent said they wanted to be in control, with the majority of these wanting this to be in partnership with their close family and friends (63 per cent), and just 12 per cent saying they want their local authorities to have control over it.

Seventy per cent of the cared for and 67 per cent of carers meanwhile said more support was needed from experts for people to manage their own care — an indication that people want to be in control and not relinquishing it to third parties.

Tony Pinkington, managing director of Younifi, told The Independent a "very process-based" and complex system was causing councils to fall "a long way" short of targets for people managing their own care, adding that councils should do more to link people with existing community-based services rather than taking on the responsibility themselves.

“Most councils falling are long way short of the targets for people managing their own care, which is predominantly due to how complex it is to be able to interact with providers and councils. It’s very process-based and not necessarily intuitive and easy,” he said.

“If they could simplify the processes and make it so people could manage their care in a much more light touch, intuitive and flexible way, then there would probably be many more people doing so and taking pressure of councils.

“There’s no silver bullet to solving the care crisis, but there’s a whole load of things we could be doing to support people with their needs much more effectively and efficiently without creating more work for the council, by hooking people into things going on in the community and allowing people to develop more independence.”

Mr Pilkington added that a historically “paternalistic” approach by councils was no longer sustainable, and urged that more could be done by local government to help elderly people engage with community services.

He added: "There are so many initiatives at the moment around developing services in the community and tapping into community wealth, like special interest groups and hobby groups, which help improve people’s general wellbeing.

“But often you look at the councils' infrastructure, and they’re not geared to leverage it. There might be fantastic things out there in the community, but councils don’t tend to have the infrastructure and sometimes the right culture to look to those sorts of things first."

Theresa May has been condemned for a recent U-turn on a so-called "dementia tax" social care policy, which experts said would deepen the crisis facing poorer people “without assets” who require social care.

The King's Fund recently warned that cash-starved local councils – already facing a £2.1bn black hole – would be hit with higher costs to pay for the shake-up, and under the Tory plans could end up with no extra funding at all.

A spokesperson for UK care charity Independent Age said local councils were "already failing to provide adequate social care services" and urged whoever is in government after the election to oversee "long-term, comprehensive and sustainable approach to social care funding".