Care-at-home plans for elderly outlined

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Indy Politics

Plans to extend care for the elderly are at the heart of the Government's final legislative programme before the general election.

Gordon Brown used his Labour conference speech in September to promise a new national care service, helping people remain in their own homes rather than going into residential care.

The move followed growing concern that many pensioners were being forced to spend all their savings and sell property in order to fund care.

The Bill, outlined in the Queen's Speech, would guarantee free personal care at home for up to 280,000 elderly and disabled people with the highest needs - although 166,000 do already receive free care.

A further 130,000 who need home care will also benefit for the first time from other measures, including adaptations to their homes - such as the installation of electronic pill dispensers - so that they can carry on living in them for as long as possible.

Officials estimate that around 400,000 people will benefit from the measures in the Bill, which will cost £670 million a year to implement.

Aides to Health Secretary Andy Burnham have been keen to contrast the measures with Tory plans for an insurance scheme to cover the costs of residential care in return for a one-off payment of £8,000 on reaching retirement age.

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