Age UK Bedfordshire held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday 20th February.
Over 80 people attended including Rt.Hon. Alistair Burt MP and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, Patrick Hall Labour, Mahmud Henry Rogers Liberal Democrats, and Nigel Wickens United Kingdom Independence Party who formed a panel to take Questions on the forthcoming Care Act 2015.
Other candidates from Labour and UKIP were in attendance as were several Councillors and Portfolio Holders, alongside the Vice Chairman of Central Bedfordshire Council.
Most of the attendees were however individuals and representatives from older peoples’ groups and other organisations.
The AGM proceeded with news on how Age UK Bedfordshire had operated during the previous financial year, with some examples of work being undertaken by the staff and volunteers, for older people in the county.
This was followed by a short presentation on the Care Act. The main areas of this Act are below.
The Care Act comes into force in April 2015. It changes the way the social care system will work in the future.
One of the biggest changes, is a care cap that means no-one will spend more than £72,000 of their own money on their care needs.
If you need care, or look after someone who does, you’ll need to know how care is changing.
Ways it may affect people from April 2015:
- You will have a right to a free needs assessment from your council.
- All councils will use a new national eligibility criteria to decide whether someone can get help from them.
- If you get social care support, you will now have a right to request a personal budget if you’re not offered one.
- If your needs assessment shows you don’t qualify for help from the council, they must advise you how the care system works and how to pay for your own care.
- You can defer selling your home to pay your care fees until after your death.
- If you’re paying for your own care, you can ask the council to arrange your services for you.
- If you’re a carer, you have a legal right to a care assessment from the local council.
- If you find it difficult to communicate or to understand the issues being discussed, the council must provide an advocate to help you when discussing your care.
- The council must provide preventative services that could reduce or delay your need for care.
From April 2016 there are more changes and these will be under consultation during 2015.
Areas of note will include:
• Care Accounts to track spend on care
• Cap of £72,000 on care costs
• Top up fees
• Independent complaints process
Karen Perry Chief Executive then took questions from the floor for the panel. Some of the Questions and a very short precis of some of the Answers are detailed here:
Q. What happens to people who are left in the house after the person’s death if there is a charge upon the estate for care? Spouses or carers for instance?
The charge will remain on the property until the surviving person sells or dies. No one will be forced to sell a property to pay fees.
Q. Is the £72,000 cap fixed and for how long?
The cap will be reviewed probably annually.
Q. Top up fees? Is there a cap to how much can be charged to clients in top ups?
Top up fees are not capped. Clear information on fees must be given.
Q. What covers care costs? Nursing/Social?
Care costs are for personal type care. Nursing care is funded under the NHS but living expenses such as hotel type costs are not part of the care cap.
Q. Will the care and other costs be broken down and detailed to the client?
All costs will be broken down so the client can see exactly what is funded and charged for.
For the full report of all the questions asked and the full answers, please visit www.ageuk.org.uk/bedfordshire/news–campaigns/care-actdiscussion/ or contact the office on 01234 360510 and a copy will be mailed out to you.