The elderly `need social insurance to pay for care'

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Indy Politics
A new form of social insurance to cover long-term care of the elderly was called for yesterday by Britain's social services directors, writes Nicholas Timmins.

"The issue of health care free at the point of delivery, with social care means-tested, is an increasingly high-profile issue," the directors told the Commons Health Committee, which is investigating long-term care.

Bob Lewis, of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said there was increasing concern among the elderly at the prospect of having to sell their homes to pay for long-term nursing or residential care and the directors said in evidence that "some form of social insurance system would appear to be the only feasible solution".

"Research from the United States and Europe would suggest that privately funded schemes are extremely limited in their coverage and are probably not the way forward."

Mr Lewis said the association had had talks with the Department of Health and the private insurance industry. However, while the department recognised there was a problem, "someone seems to need to bring the department, social security and others together to address this issue".

The directors warned: "Health purchasers are more and more driven by targets in the Health of the Nation [White Paper], Patient's Charter and waiting-list initiatives that have virtually nothing to do with the needs of older people living in the community."