Category: CT blog


An upgraded Better Care Fund: game changing or game playing?

Posted on May 22nd, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. No Comments

By Guest Blogger BOB FERGUSON

You’ll have heard few cheers for the Better Care Fund (BCF), the bright idea intended to nudge the NHS and local authorities into each other’s arms – mostly, it should be added, for the benefit of the former. Although it may have set hearts aflutter at the time, it hasn’t actually produced a match made in heaven.

The fragile nature of the relationship has never been better illustrated than in one hospital’s attempt to combat delayed discharges. It mounted a predatory raid on capacity normally contracted by the local authority for ongoing care, securing beds for step-down purposes by the simple expedient of overpaying. Its comeuppance for this aggressive procurement came subsequently when residents were stranded by the resultant reduction in council-funded accommodation for long-term usage.

A failure to consider, let alone consult on, expanding capacity sparked a … Read More »


Clear thinking on care funding

Posted on May 15th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Clear thinking on care funding

By Guest Blogger JEF SMITH

In the rarified atmosphere of political debate engendered by the general election, social care is only just about hanging on. General elections do not spread attention fairly and, sadly, the best that we can expect – and by and large are getting – is the occasional mention, usually coupled with the more widespread worries associated with the NHS.

When the dust of election settles, those of us who care about social care funding need to be prepared to renew the struggle for political attention. At that point, it will be important to separate two distinct strands of the problem, both of which must feature in the promised Green Paper.

The first is that explored – six years ago! – by the Dilnot Commission. This would lessen the unpredictable financial impact of needing extensive care late in life by … Read More »


Enabling our most venerable voters

Posted on May 8th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Enabling our most venerable voters

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

I wonder if any former politicians are now living in care homes. I also wonder if any of them might consider doing a Tony Blair and make their opinions known, even though they are now well out of the game. I’d love to know their thoughts about social care – the funding of, the regulation of, the positive aspects of.

There must be one or two erstwhile denisons of Westminster now in receipt of social care, who might like to make their opinions known in the run-up to the General Election.

Politicians aside, now is the time when care homes should be doing all they can to ensure that those residents with capacity are given the opportunity to vote. The right to vote is a hard-won privilege (no matter how nonsensical the voting system is) and the … Read More »


Social care; essential but ignorable

Posted on May 2nd, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Many older people’s charities and many care provider organisations have gone through the motions of calling for social care to be placed high on the election manifestos of the major parties. Others, knowing their calls will be ignored, have maintained a resigned silence.

It’s a forlorn hope of course; as long as the major parties keep beating each other around the ears and blaming each other for the shortcomings of the NHS, instead of working towards meaningful reform, social care will remain forever a Cinderella service.

The problem being of course that most of us won’t need any form of social care until the last few months of our lives and perhaps not even then, and it’s not something we like to think about any way. But the older people’s charities and the care providers have no option … Read More »


Self-funding: the gift that keeps on giving

Posted on April 24th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Self-funding: the gift that keeps on giving

By guest blogger BOB FERGUSON

Last month MPs lambasted providers for “mercilessly” ripping off customers “when they are not looking”. Okay, they weren’t talking about care homes. But they could have been. These providers exploit self-funders by way of what a relative called “hidden and dishonest” subsidies – the neglected story behind the underfunding headlines.

LaingBuisson is convinced the sector is being kept afloat by cross-subsidies from unsuspecting self-funders. The industry’s injured innocents, meanwhile, prefer an alternative reality: self-funders pay the “real costs” of care and providers absorb the shortfall in council prices. Unfortunately for the deniers, there’s ample evidence that the pollutant of underhand cross-subsidy is “endemic”, with private fees not only considerably higher than authority rates, but often soaring above even LaingBuisson’s benchmarks.

Without a breakdown of costs – advertised fees are all tip and no iceberg – self-funders can never … Read More »


Time to start planning for Care Home Open Day

Posted on April 18th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 3 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

While it’s only mid-April, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about Care Home Open Day. This year it’s on Friday, June 19th and will be the fifth time the event has been held.

Now is the time to send out your first press release to the local media so that they can diarise it and perhaps run a story in the lead-up to the event.

Now is also a good time to get signs organised – signs which can be placed at the front of care homes, promoting the event and encouraging the community to use the opportunity to come and have a look around. This is really cheap marketing and shows a willingness to be a part of the local community.

Some sort of special event can be planned for the day. As this year’s theme is … Read More »


Allotments have a lot to offer

Posted on April 10th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Allotments have a lot to offer

 

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

We have recently acquired an allotment, complete with inherited rhubarb patch and compost bins, so I have a bit of a bee in the bonnet about allotments.

I know that some care homes with extensive grounds have created their own allotments, making plots available to individuals from around the neighbourhood, which is a great way to engage with the local community.

Not all care homes have this option of course, but I think allotments should be included on the list of stimulating destinations to be offered as ‘trips out’, along with public gardens and the like.

Allotments are a riot of visual texture and, for me anyway, evoke those arcane times when humankind ceased being hunter-gatherers and began the epic task of cultivating the land and so laying the foundations for modern civilisation. I think allotments have the … Read More »


Nothing should replace the human touch

Posted on April 3rd, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 4 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Something I like about electric screwdrivers is that when the battery suddenly gives out, or they otherwise fail, one can always put it back in its case and finish whatever it was you were doing the old way – with a manual screwdriver and muscle power.

Something I dislike about computers and information technology in general is that when they fail, you’re buggered. Take publishing, which has depended on technology ever since William Caxton put town criers out of business. These days, when your Macintosh crashes, there is no option to go back to the older methods of hot metal typesetting and linotype machines; the hardware doesn’t exist outside museums and the skills have been lost.

It is the loss of skills that worries me most when I think about technology and care (both kinds; health and … Read More »


Oh death tax, where is thy sting?

Posted on March 27th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

Reactions to the latest proposed review of social care funding have ranged from cautious welcome to resigned cynicism. What, several commentators have tiredly enquired, can this new look at a difficult but already thoroughly rehearsed issue actually achieve? The answer surely lies in how the central question is posed.

If we ask simply how can social care be funded, all the old objections resurface, notably the big bill. Eventually a report will be produced and in all probability after a brief debate timid politicians will again banish the issue to the back burner or the long grass, depending on your cliché preference. If on the other hand, the facts that something has to be done and that whatever happens will cost a lot are stated as givens, the question then to be put to the public is … Read More »


Delayed discharge oversight holds promise

Posted on March 20th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By guest blogger BOB FERGUSON

Although post-Budget celebrations have been understandably muted, social care providers might derive some consolation from the Chancellor’s sub-text. The improvement measures planned for councils that struggle to reduce delayed transfers of care (DTOC) could offer wider-ranging potential.

Given the impracticability of isolating issues around DTOC from general commissioning practice, the likely ripple effects of external intervention could constitute the thick end of a regulatory wedge – especially if implemented by CQC. Providers have long been frustrated by local authorities’ in-house replacement for independent oversight of commissioning: LGA’s buddy scheme in which performance is assessed at mates’ rates. Now Whitehall also seems to have become exasperated.

At the request of the Department of Health, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has directed councils towards the straight and narrow with an idiot’s guide to providers’ costs*. This, remember, … Read More »



Latest blog posts

An upgraded Better Care Fund: game changing or game playing?

By Guest Blogger BOB FERGUSON

You’ll have heard few cheers for the Better Care Fund (BCF), the bright idea intended to nudge the NHS and...

Clear thinking on care funding

By Guest Blogger JEF SMITH

In the rarified atmosphere of political debate engendered by the general election, social care is only just about hanging on....

Enabling our most venerable voters

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

I wonder if any former politicians are now living in care homes. I also wonder if any of them might...