Wednesday, September 16, 1998 Published at 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Elderly care 'needs radical overhaul'
Elderly people should not pay for health and social care, says Age Concern
In its final submission to the Royal Commission on Long Term Care, Age Concern calls for a radical overhaul of the existing system, including:
Sally Greengross, Age Concern England's director general, said: "If the services of the future are to support the growing older population, the Royal Commission must look closely at the experience of the past and resist the temptation to patch up and paper over the cracks in the current system."
It wants a new national definition of long-term care which clearly distinguishes between the cost of the nursing element of care homes and other 'hotel' costs, such as food, accommodation and cleaning.
This would ensure elderly people did not have to fund health costs and would make for smaller nursing home bills.
The charity says many elderly people in nursing homes now pay for health care which should be free on the NHS.
Age Concern also wants a national system for subsidising hotel charges.
Community care authorities
The charity is also proposing that new locally based community care authorities be set up.
Age Concern says this can be confusing for elderly people and can cause funding battles between departments, leading to delays in people getting the care they need.
For example, bathing services for the elderly can be defined as either a medical or a social need.
The government is due to set out its recipe for reducing the so-called "Berlin Wall" between health and social services on Wednesday.
Age Concern is also proposing national guidelines on charges for long-term care.
"There is quite a lot of disparity across the country. What you get access to and whether you pay for it depends on where you live," said a spokeswoman.
"Elderly people need to know what is available, what they can expect, what kind of financial support they can have and how much they will have to contribute," she added.
Age Concern is also calling for:
Age Concern gives oral evidence to the Royal Commission on 24 September.
It has so far submitted nine papers to the commission, which is due to report its findings in December.