The King's Fund announces inquiry into care services for older people in London

Concerns are growing that London could soon be faced with a crisis in care services for older people in the capital, The King's Fund says today as it launches a major inquiry into the capital's care market. A call for evidence is going out to professionals and practitioners in the field, as well as older people and carers directly affected by these services.

The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'There are serious concerns in London about both residential and home care services. Our inquiry will aim to see whether or not the capital is delivering sufficient care services of the right quality to meet the needs of London's diverse older population. We anticipate that much of our work will also have relevance for care services in other parts of the country.'

The King's Fund wants to hear what people living and working in London think about care services in the capital. The King's Fund senior associate Julia Unwin will chair an independent inquiry committee to consider the evidence that will be presented by a broad range of stakeholders, including:

  • older people and their relatives
  • agencies running care homes, home care, day services and very sheltered housing
  • care staff, their trade unions and professional associations
  • social services, housing and health authorities responsible for commissioning care services.

The inquiry will examine how local authorities and their health and housing partners are working with independent care providers to shape and manage local care markets. It will also look at the extent to which inequalities in care services are being addressed, focussing on services for older people with dementia and for older people from black and minority ethnic communities. As well as gathering and analysing evidence from stakeholders, the Inquiry will commission new research. A final report with findings and recommendations will be published in spring 2005.

The King's Fund senior health and social care adviser Janice Robinson, who is leading the inquiry, added:

'The future for older Londoners needing care and support remains uncertain. Our inquiry will highlight the challenges to providing a high standard of responsive services that will give the capital's older people the services they need and the quality of life they want.'

Notes to editors: 

1. Call for evidence
People are being asked to give their views in writing or online, responding to all or some of a set of questions, by 2 April 2004. Oral hearings will be held in summer 2004. The committee of inquiry will also invite some older people and their carers to discuss issues that concern them in small group discussions during the summer of 2004. The call for evidence paper is available from Sarah Robinson on 020 7307 2539

2. Inquiry committee members
Julia Unwin, Chair of the Enquiry; Ratna Dutt, Director, REU; Peter Fletcher, Director, Peter Fletcher Associates; Howard Glennerster, Professor Emeritus, London School of Economics; Tessa Harding, Head of Policy, Help the Aged; William Laing, Director, Laing and Buisson; Leslie Marks, Chair, Bromley Council on Ageing; Loraine Martins, Director of Diversity, Audit Commission; Jo Moriarty, Research Fellow, Social Care Workforce Reseach Unit, King's College London; Peter Smallridge, Chair, Ashford Primary Care Trust; Peter Westland, Commissioner, Commission for Social Care Inspection; Peter Williams, Deputy Director, Council of Mortgage Lenders.

3. Report
The King's Fund will produce a full report of the findings with recommendations for action in spring 2005. Interim findings will also be produced during the 18-month inquiry.

4. What is the care market?
In the 'care market', individuals, and local councils and the NHS, who act on their behalf:

  • choose and buy different types of residential and home-care services at a price they can afford
  • pay for care services run by different businesses and charities, often in competition with each
  • other for customers or clients.

Local authorities and the NHS also run care services. But this has declined markedly over the last ten years, and independent agencies now supply the majority of services. Older people with long-term illness and disability are the single biggest group using the care market.

5. Contact details
For further information and interviews, please contact Daniel Reynolds in the King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2581 or 07831 554927, or Michael Moruzzi on 020 7307 2585.