'A simple plea for justice' for our growing elderly population
A FORMER Bristol City Council leader has launched a scathing attack on the way Britain cares for its elderly.
In a statement to today's full council meeting, Barbara Janke calls on her colleagues to back an all-party campaign for a better deal for vulnerable older people.
Liberal Democrat Mrs Janke, who stood down last month after several years as leader of the council, will speak of the poverty and isolation which faces elderly people.
She said: "This is a simple plea for justice, a call for a campaign to improve the lives of one of the fastest-growing sectors in our population.
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"How we treat the elderly is a clear expression of our humanity and our commitment to a fairer society. Yet in Britain, standards of care often fall well short of decency. A recent report says elderly people here are lonelier and poorer than their counterparts in similar European countries.
"It's a national scandal, but – whoever is in power – no Government seems able or willing to find the answers.""By 2030 more than a quarter of a million people could be left having to pay for their own care costs – which can be tens of thousands of pounds a year – without any support from the state.
"Yet instead of helping, Government has compounded the problem. Over the last two years around £1 billion has been stripped from the social care budgets of councils up and down the country."
All the political parties represented at the Local Government Association recently wrote to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Labour leader about the care funding crisis.
Clifton ward councillor Mrs Janke is urging the council to endorse the letter and its call for the Government to implement the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission in full.
The commission reported that older people should not have to pay their own care costs if they have assets of less than £100,000 – not £23,250, as now – and that no one should have to pay more than a total of £35,000 for their lifetime's care. There is potentially no limit on an individual's lifetime contributions at the moment.
Mrs Janke said: "Demand for services, particularly in dementia care, escalates as numbers over the age of 75 continue to rise four times faster than the general population.
"While Dilnot urges more help from central government, Iain Duncan-Smith's Centre for Social Justice is now calling for scant resources to be focused only on the very poorest.
"Alongside developments in medicine and technology, changing social attitudes and expectations are also driving real improvements in care.
"In recent years, we have seen a welcome change of emphasis, for instance, on giving vulnerable older people more independence, allowing them to remain in their own homes for longer.
"Here in Bristol – just like everywhere else – we are slowly moving away from traditional institutions of residential care towards, for example, extra care housing. In this way more couples and individuals can carry on their daily lives with support, when needed, but retaining also a sense of privacy and dignity. But these changes will demand a huge funding commitment from Government.
"The Care Services minister, Paul Burstow, himself says the present social care system is no longer fit for purpose.
"National government must wake up to the need for a complete overhaul. Not just better – and fairer – systems of funding, but new ideas, too, for the provision of care."