Excellent news came out of Libdem HQ and Westminster last week;
Yesterday the Coalition Government announced an historic reform to the way we pay for long-term care. This package of measures will end unlimited care costs and provide more help for those who are less well-off.
There are two key reforms:
· A cap of £75,000 on the amount that anyone will have to pay for care
· A massive increase in the means test threshold from £23,250 to £123,000. This means that more people with modest wealth will get help from the state with the costs of care. Anyone with assets below this level will get help paying for care.
The current system is a lottery. If you develop cancer, the NHS will pay for your treatment. But if you develop dementia, and need help with washing, dressing and going to the bathroom, you have to pay for your care. One in ten people are hit with catastrophic costs of more than £100,000.
At a time when public finances are so tight, finding the right solution was a huge challenge. But the plan we have set out is fairer, simpler and more sustainable than the current system.
The Liberal Democrats in Government fought hard for this historic achievement. The Labour Government failed to do anything to reform an unfair system during their 13 years in office. Alongside other steps, such as extra protection for people who develop care needs as a child or during their working life, these reforms will help provide dignity and security for all of us in later life.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that around Christmas my Grandfather had a serious episode. He was taken home by the Police on Boxing day after being in an exceptionally confused state in Asda. The following day I went to visit and found the gas fire pouring out methane and filling the house as he'd simply forgotten to light it. he had even forgotten how to drink a cup of tea!
Although he seems to have recovered he is still suffering from getting severely muddled. To preserve his dignity I won't go any further, needless to say we, as a family are going to need to look at care options and there I'm not going to lie - cost is a consideration.
We are better off than most as Grandad, a trained engineer made a bucket load of cash in the 1950s restructuring Ghana for independence and retired as a consultant for the waterboard. However many are not so fortunate and in this case my Mum may give up work to be his full time carer, a position that many can't do. Then of course there is the possibility that we might have to resort to a residential care home if my Mum, who is 60 this year, can't cope. With Medway council selling on the specialist Nelson's court we could be facing an astronomical bill well beyond our meagre incomes.
News that the Government are capping fees is a relief for my family and countless others, the priority has to be the elderly relative rather than stressing about money. In the past how many families have suffered in silence or sub standard care due to shortage of funds?
This is really welcome news.