According to the BBC, Lord Carter’s review for the Government on how to save the NHS £5billion is recommending that the NHS should establish its own social care homes and/or make arrangements with the independent sector to do this for them.
This idea just commodifies (particularly) older people given the demography of NHS usage. Some of his other ideas may well have merit, but (assuming the BBC have got this right) this one just flies in the face of evidence, rights, morals and indeed government policy. It is driven purely by a mindset that sees older people as ‘bed blockers’ who cost the NHS money, whilst forgetting other factors.
Most importantly from my perspective, it completely fails to consider what older people want and need. When NDTi engaged with older people as part of developing the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s ‘Older People’s Vision for Long term Care’, they told us they frequently felt services treated them as an economic commodity - to be moved around to suit the financial and business needs of public services. They also spoke of their aspirations to get support that enabled them to maintain family and community connections, to age ‘in place’ (i.e. where they lived, felt comfortable and had relationships), how they were not listened to by services and how they still had things to give to society to reciprocate for the care and support they were needing. So, first and foremost, Lord Carter’s proposal fails the humanity test alongside the NHS policy commitment to listen to people and ‘put patients first’.
Then there are all the other reasons:
Finally, don't even get me started on how this proposal contradicts the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It blatantly contradicts Articles 19 and 26 of the Convention. Interesting that journalists have reported that the UN are visiting the UK at the moment to conduct an investigation into whether ‘austerity’ is leading the UK to contravene its UNCRPD Treaty obligations. I wonder if they’d like to take a look at this idea?
Let’s hope Government Ministers knock this ridiculous proposal on the head straight away. Instead, why don’t we try dealing with the organisational problem of delayed hospital discharge in a way that we know works and respects people’s rights and personal integrity? Intensive case management, real person centred planning, genuinely integrated health and social care practice, access to properly resourced personal budgets and alternatives to residential care would be a far more sensible and workable set of proposals from any government advisor.