Conservatives right to prioritise social care funding but proposed scheme needs to be part of wider reform

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Commenting on the Conservative proposal for an insurance-style scheme that would provide free residential care for life, if it were needed, The King's Fund Chief Executive Niall Dickson said:

'It's good to see that the Conservative Party is prepared to make the reform of social care funding a priority in the run up to the General Election. It is also sensible to explore ways in which insurance can be used to spread the risk of long-term care costs. Everyone agrees that the current system is unsustainable.

'However, residential care is just one form of social care support. We know that most older people would prefer to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, and that the decision to go into a residential setting is complex, often subtly different in each case, and affected by a host of factors.

'There must be a risk that this scheme will create a perverse incentive whereby those with insurance are more likely to go into ‘free’ residential care rather than stay in their own homes, where they would have to pay for their own care and living costs. These decisions are frequently taken at times of crisis and vulnerability.

'It would also be good to see more detail about how this scheme would guard against inflating care home prices, encourage better quality and avoid reinforcing historical over-supply of care homes in some areas.

'But as part of a comprehensive package of reforms, the proposed scheme could be of benefit to older people with modest means who are certainly not well-served by the current system.'

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund press and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes  research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.