Ministers set to reject free care for elderly

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Indy Politics

A key recommendation of the Royal Commission on long-term care of the elderly looks set to be rejected. Ministers are expected to throw out the suggestion that the state should pay the cost of personal care, such as help with washing.

A key recommendation of the Royal Commission on long-term care of the elderly looks set to be rejected. Ministers are expected to throw out the suggestion that the state should pay the cost of personal care, such as help with washing.

Last year the Royal Commission proposed nursing and personal care should be free to all but living and housing costs would remain the responsibility of care home residents. The Treasury was not prepared to take on the full cost of nursing and personal care, which could be up to £1bn a year and Alan Milburn, Health Secretary, is believed to have drawn up compromise measures expected to be unveiled before the end of the month. It will see the Government accepting the cost of better support services for elderly people living at home but not paying for personal care.

At present all care is means tested and anyone with assets including property worth more than £16,000 is not eligible for any state assistance. The Commission proposed raising the level of savings to £60,000.

One of the Government's compromise proposals is thought to involve state "mortgages" to meet the cost of long-term residential care and spare pensioners having to sell their home to pay for a nursing- home place. The Government would reclaim the value of the loan, secured on the home, only after the patient's death.

Another idea was that three months of state-funded care would be free, regardless of a person's savings, to encourage the elderly in hospital to go into a home for short-term care, so freeing NHS beds.

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