'Shambles' over care of elderly predicted

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The Independent Online
THOUSANDS of elderly people will continue to be shunted unnecessarily into private residential homes after the Government's long-awaited overhaul of community care next year is exposed as a 'shambolic failure', Labour warned yesterday, writes Judy Jones.

With only five months to go before local authorities assume responsibility for the planning and provision of services to the elderly, the Government had yet to tell them what funds they could expect to implement the changes, David Hinchliffe, Labour's community care spokesman, said.

In an address to the social services directors' annual conference on the Isle of Wight, Mr Hinchliffe predicted the funding arrangements would prevent councils from offering clients the choice of care and support that next April's reorganisation was intended to foster.

Recent ministerial statements suggested the changes would leave local authorities with little option but to route frail elderly people into the private residential sector rather than offer domiciliary support for continued independent living in their own homes.

'For many people the community care reforms will seem to have been nothing more than a lengthy, elaborate and very cruel hoax,' Mr Hinchliffe told the conference.

Over the past decade, the numbers living in private residential and nursing homes for the elderly have increased from 38,000 to more than 250,000.