Reactions to call for the integration of health and social care

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Responses to the Barker report published yesterday have been mixed. While some within involved industries have welcomed it unreservedly, others have offered more measured responses.

The report recommended for the integration of health and social care while criticising the insurance industry's inability to develop new products to help people fund long-term care as a "market failure."

Allianz Global Assistance's response quoted a survey conducted by Gorkana which revealed that 52% of people are concerned about providing care for elderly relatives.

While the report rejected private insurance in favour of public funds, 48% of those surveyed would be interested in insurance packages to help cope with care costs as an employee or member benefit.

One of the areas highlighted in the report was the fact that social care is more than just care of those in the final stages of life, and provision should reflect this.

Janet Jadavji, CEO and founder of Yecco, which developed Yecco Care at Home with Allianz Global Assistance commented on the findings.

She said, "With the UK social care ‘gap' forecast to hit over 2 million without adult children to care for them, by 2030, we need to build a robust network of care management solutions that brings together carers, patients and healthcare professionals."

Meanwhile, Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards said, "This impressive and clearly argued report clearly sets out a new vision for the stubborn problem of how to adequately fund health and social care for the future, and is to be warmly welcomed."

Edwards added, "But as we don't know how many people with critical care needs are currently paying for their own care or receiving it informally, there is a risk that the Commission's central proposal may result in new battlegrounds emerging if numbers eligible exceed the budget available for free care. This will require careful consideration from policymakers and commissioners if it is not to undermine the proposal."

Long term care 

A spokesperson from Partnership said, "We believe that Care Act, which along with the Dilnot proposals includes a duty on local authorities to provide information and advice on how to access independent financial advice, will act as a spur for innovation in the market - however Care annuities which are purchased at the point of need will still, in Partnership's opinion, be best placed to meet the needs of those who want a guaranteed income for life to fund care costs and provide peace of mind for self-funders and their families."

Towers Watson commented on the insurance industry's role in  mplementing the Dilnot cap, and the opportunities for long-term care insurance it provides. The report was highly critical of industry responses to the proposed cap to date, the cap will not be implemented until 2016.

Stuart Butler, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, said when the cap was first announced, "The idea that if you have savings or assets set aside of £72,000, you're okay, is a false one that needs to be scotched."

He later added, "The reality is that individuals or their relatives remain fully responsible for room and board costs and, if staying in a private facility, any care charges over and above the local authority rate. This could easily amount to about £500 per week at present, a shortfall that private long-term care insurance products could help address."

Vince Bodnar, Towers Watson's global leader on long-term care insurance commented on the period when care insurance products came onto the market in the 1990s without achieving popularity.

He said: "Insurers only sold a few thousand policies at that time for a variety of reasons, but market conditions are very different now. For a start, there will be a 31% increase in people of pension age - the group most likely to need long-term care - by 2037, who no longer effectively have to annuitise their accumulated pension funds."

Finally, Tony Hunter, Social Care Institute for Excellence chief executive said, "It is good to see the range of income generating options to fund future health and social care. There are of course policy and logistical considerations for the options but the overriding point is that there really are ways forward if we are serious about building sustainable ways to meet growing need and demand.

"We welcome the emphasis on better integrated working and recognise the importance of health and wellbeing boards working beyond organisational boundaries on broader prevention and wellbeing agendas."

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