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Page last updated at 07:46 GMT, Wednesday, 11 May 2011 08:46 UK

Social care system 'a mess'

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The Law Commission is proposing changes to the way in which elderly people are cared for in England and Wales, after a report into the current system revealed major inefficiencies.

Elaine McDonald, a former ballet dancer, told reporter Sanchia Berg about the distress caused when her local council decided to reduce the night care provided to her.

"You don't like your partner cleaning you up out of your mess," she said, explaining how her partner's health was being ruined by having to care for her.

"What do you sacrifice? Money or health?"

The existing laws and guidance on social care should be "swept away" and replaced with a single coherent framework, the Law Commission's Frances Patterson told John Humphrys.

The proposed statutory provisions would provide "clear and individually enforceable rights" that could be taken through the courts if violated.

Andrew Dilnot, chairman of the Commission of Funding of Care and Support, welcomed the report, saying the current system was "just a mess", much of which dated back to the poor law.

What people wanted, he said, was "to know what the situation was. Not to go through an extraordinary lengthy process that ended up in the Supreme Court, because nobody was really sure what was what".


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