The latest NHS reforms have promised to pave the way for better at home care for the elderly. By integrating home care services with local providers, the hope is that this will provide a number of benefits, including freeing up much needed hospital beds and providing better end of life care. But opponents to the reforms are not convinced. Instead, they believe that even though more elderly people may have the ability to keep and live in their own homes, the quality of services on offer is not likely to improve.

A System in Crisis

The elderly health care system has been in crisis for some time, and in 2011 Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, acknowledged the need for more funding whilst at the same time making no promises that such funding would not be secured out of the pockets of pensioners themselves. In the wake of this admittance, concerns about the levels of care provided to elderly people, both in their homes and in residential nursing facilities, continued to grow.

Continuing Inaccessibility for Elderly Patients

When Nick Triggle reported on the matter for the BBC in January 2013, he stated that councils were still having to ration the amount of care they were able to provide for elderly people, which has meant that only the most needy are being given access.

Still more recently, Kay Sheldon of the Care Quality Commission has accused the CQC’s senior members of ‘deceit and evasion’ with regards to their failing to uphold quality standards in hospitals and care homes. This failing includes repeat instances of the Commission not following up on reports of patients being harmed, not carrying out enough inspections, and attempting to gag staff who spoke out – including Ms Sheldon herself.

Affording the Costs of Homecare

Providing adequate homecare for elderly people has numerous benefits, however the number of elderly people who are receiving care at home as actually fallen, despite promises to guarantee elderly people a minimum level of council help. This includes providing funding for certain essential home care products like stair lifts, which can be easily obtained from reputable provider

Instead, many elderly people are having to find alternative sources of funding for their own care, relying on family for support or, in many cases, selling their homes. In many cases, elderly people and/or relatives are having to fight for support, which is a clear indicator that current laws surrounding elderly home care are too complex.

A New NHS for a New Generation – But At What Cost?

Unfortunately, the new reforms seem to be in danger of further complicating the process of accessing healthcare, rather than making it more simple to understand. And certain reform measures, such as the introduction of NHS healthcare apps for smart phones, have already proven to be largely incomprehensible to our elderly loved ones. In this respect, it could be said that although the reforms may, at some point in the future, be adapted to suit the needs of the younger generations, they seem to be simply overlooking the needs of the old.


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