The government has identified telecare and online information services as two of the foundations of its proposed National Care Service.
A much anticipated green paper on the future of adult social care says that support to help people remain independent and information to help them navigate the care support system are two of the six “entitlements” that should underpin the new service.
The discussion document says telecare is “particularly helpful in keeping people safe in their own homes and in giving them confidence” and that the government will continue to promote it.
It also holds out the prospect of a social-care equivalent of the NHS Choices website, saying: “We want to make it easier for people to access information directly, for example by introducing a care and support information brand that will be as well recognised as the NHS brand.”
High quality information will be particularly important if the plans outlined in Shaping the Future of Care Together come to fruition, because individuals are given an important role in devising their own care packages.
Although the green paper focuses on how funding for adult social care can be made fairer as the population ages and more people with disabilities survive into adulthood, it also says that once their needs have been assessed, individuals will be given care plans and personal budgets.
It expects councils to ensure that a mixed economy of public, third sector and private sector services develops. Alongside “official” websites, it therefore expects a new class of “comparison websites” to grow up to advise people on what is available.
The green paper was published yesterday and identifies many of the same problems with the care system that the Royal Commission on the Long Term Care of the Elderly identified ten years ago.
It says today’s means-tested funding system is widely perceived as unfair, since only those with the highest needs and lowest means receive free care. Others have to go without or sell assets and run down savings to pay for services.
The paper also says that the quantity and quality of care available varies greatly across the country and that for all the attempts to encourage joint working over the past decade, health and social services remain fragmented.
To address these issues, it says a single assessment system should operate across the entire country, and that people should be able to take their needs assessment from one area to another.
It proposes a ‘partnership’ model of funding, in which the state pays for a proportion of the cost of meeting assessed needs, and individuals take out private or state insurance to cover the remainder. The exact model of funding is the key question for the Big Care Debate public consultation.
The green paper also proposes that a social care equivalent of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence should be created to advise on what works in social care, and that services should be more joined up as well as more personalised.
The green paper has been published on the careandsupport section of the directgov website, and comes in a web format against which people can leave comments. The site itself uses various web 2.0 technologies, such as a blog and community for information and feedback. It also has a facebook presence.