Care funding? ..You want me to pay HOW much? | In the shoes of… Gill’s Mum

Some of you will know that my 90 year old Mum ventured into the occasional blogwriting moment last year and was genuinely surprised when people actually seemed interested in her views! This says a lot about how older people perceive their role in the UK and a far cry from the way that the wisdom and experience of old people are revered in many societies. Anyway, people WERE interested – including lots of kind people commenting on the blog itself – and indeed Mum has had several requests to “guest blog” for others. I am hoping this will give her confidence and motivation to write further blogs (or ideally begin her OWN blog) this year.

… My suggestion along these lines has earned the perennial “We’ll see” or even the occasional “Whatever”. Mum can be quite “down with the kids” when it suits her. 🙂

Anyway, Mum WAS interested when former Care Services Minister Rt Hon Paul Burstow MP asked her to write a viewpoint for ‘Dilnot: do or die?’ an important document which has just been published by CentreForum.

The pamphlet explores and makes recommendations on the long-running issue of paying for care. I was keen to support this as paying for care is indeed a “long running sore in the social care system”, as described in the publication, and one which successive governments have kicked into the long grass.

I particularly approved of the ‘Whose Shoes?’ approach, seeking contributions from different perspectives. Ming Ho, a previous guest blogger in our “in my shoes” series has written a very powerful piece from her perspective as carer for her “self-funding” mother.

It is unusual but wholly fitting that one of the people most directly affected by the change in question writes the introduction of a document like this. So this is what ‘J, 90, from Warwickshire’ has to say…

We Expect Better From Government

Img_2377 cropI don’t think I ever thought about needing long-term care. But my friends started to go into care homes and apartments and I was urged, by the family, to think about it. My daughter took me to visit very nice places where people live in their own flat and can mingle with others to chat or be entertained. But I felt this was definitely not for me – at least for now.

My husband had absolutely no intention of moving. Perhaps it would have been better if we had gone somewhere together. Moving is such a huge decision and, of course, irreversible. At least one friend is not very happy despite being in a comfortable, sought after home. So I guess many elderly people, like me, just put their heads in the sand and get on with their lives!

The government should explain the necessity for saving up, but many old people might not understand and could be frightened by this. For most, it is too late to start saving anyway when you retire. It would all have to be very carefully handled. Could the government do it?

I think it is very unfair to have to use so much of one’s savings and property to pay for care and I consider the means-tested allowance to be ludicrously low. I read now that this might increase in 2015 – three years away. At 90, three years is a very long time indeed! I am very disappointed that this government – as previous governments – talk so much about this issue but have so little sense of urgency.

In the meantime, the lottery continues. Depending on what you get wrong with you, how long it lasts and how and when you eventually die, the financial outcome ranges from “free of charge” to “losing everything”. I don’t think there is even any insurance you can take out to cover care home fees, certainly at my age. You just have to try to stay healthy and hope!

I wonder if many people are even aware that social care is not free. They will be very angry indeed when they are told so. They will talk about the billions of pounds this country sends abroad for overseas aid, some of which would appear to be totally unnecessary.

HMS5I suppose all this applies particularly to people of my generation (a diminishing number) who lived through the horrors and deprivations of the Second World War. Younger people have no idea what this was like and I hope they never have to find out for themselves. But the war instilled in my generation a culture of saving rather than spending, putting others first and “making do”.

It is all particularly difficult as many older people struggle to understand the value of

money these days. For my first job, I was paid “£2 17s 6d” per week. Today this would just about buy a Costa coffee.

My generation have paid their taxes and saved hard for what they now own and never asked for anything. We expect our elected government to look after us better now.

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About Gill Phillips - Whose Shoes?

Passionate about personalisation in health & social care. Creator of Whose Shoes? - an imaginative approach to helping people work together to improve lives. http://nutshellcomms.co.uk
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7 Responses to Care funding? ..You want me to pay HOW much? | In the shoes of… Gill’s Mum

  1. Very moving stuff and a very powerful blog.

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  2. Kate Swaffer says:

    Fabulous blog post Gill.. And congratulations to your mum for such an insightful, honest letter xox

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  3. Pingback: Care funding? ..You want me to pay HOW much? | In the shoes of… Gill’s Mum « Creating life with words – Inspiration, love and truth

  4. Dear Gill’s Mum, I think the points you make are really good. I know from my experience talking to people that not many of us imagine that we will need long term care so it’s hard to expect people to plan. If you develop something like dementia you would have to start saving at a very early age to have enough money to cover long term care and there are not many people who can afford to do this. Somebody once told me that he paid 40 per cent tax in the early 50s in a very ordinary job so he resented being told his care was free.

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  5. Rob says:

    This is a very moving post and rightly points out the unfairness of it all. Perhaps the other side that people can’t see is a country with vast amounts of structural debt, while 90 year old people who have been retired and collecting a pension for 25-30 years don’t want to pay for their care despite generally sitting on very valuable housing assets. What they would like is the indebted and financially-stretched younger people (unable to buy their own homes until decades after the older generation) to pay higher taxes and higher council tax in order to pay off the structural debt they didn’t benefit from and then fund the older generation’s pensions and care services. Not exactly fair for the younger generation either, is it?

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    • Whose Shoes? says:

      Thank you for all the comments. Very keen to hear from all perspectives, as long as constructive. The younger generation, as Rob points out, also feel aggrieved. I think we all do when expectations and goalposts change so dramatically. But I think Rob will accept that social media is generally a tool for the young – with its vibrancy and immediacy. It is VERY difficult for older people to have a voice so I am keen to encourage Mum and others of her generation to learn to use some of these new tools and avoid being totally ignored. Mum’s blogs in this series have had among the highest number of ‘hits’ and comments. This is interesting, especially in the context of some very high profile professionals who have kindly written guest blogs. Please keep the comments coming and I will share with Mum and get her to post a reply! 🙂 Gill

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  6. Pingback: In the shoes of… Jude Irwin | Carer whose Mum is living with dementia | Whose Shoes?

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