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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 23:56 GMT
Isolation fear over elderly care
By Nick Triggle
BBC News health reporter

Elderly person
The government has encouraged people to be care for in their own homes
The drive to allow more elderly people to be cared for at home could leave them isolated, social services directors say.

Tony Hunter, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said care was improving and basic needs were being met.

But he warned closer co-operation between agencies was needed to involve pensioners in the wider community.

In 2002, ministers said people would get more help to be cared for at home.

They set a target for 30% of people receiving care from social services to be living at home within four years.

That target was met early at the end of last year when 87,100 households received home care in England - up from 60,700 in 1998.

Current provision of low level care is simply not keeping pace with older people's needs and weżd like to see a redress in this balance
Rachael Childs, of Help the Aged

More than 200,000 people are cared for in nursing homes and residential care homes.

Mr Hunter said: "The vast majority of people want to remain at home. It is important that we meet their basic care needs, but that is not the end of it.

"If people feel isolated at home, it is no good. Theirs is a broader agenda that now needs to be addressed.

"It is in some places. But what we need is government and different council departments, such as housing and leisure, to work together to provide the right conditions for older people to take part in the community.

"In homes, there is often a sense of community, but that is not always the case if people do not receive the right support at home.


"Let me give an example. My mother was looked after very well by Doncaster Council.

"One thing she said made a huge difference was getting involved in a school project on life between the wars. She felt able to contribute and I think that is very important."

Help the Aged policy officer Rachael Childs said: "Government policy is increasingly emphasising the importance of promoting and enabling independence.

"Low level social care, for example, home help, is often essential in empowering older people to remain in their own homes and in preventing premature decline in well-being.

"However, current provision of low level care is simply not keeping pace with older people's needs and we'd like to see a redress in this balance.

"Without it, quality of life for those wishing to remain living independently is at risk."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the Green Paper, which is expected to be published within next few days, would address the issue of home care.

"The government is committed to making sure people who are cared for at home live as full and active a life as possible."

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