Category: CT blog


Betrayers of self-funders’ trust?

Posted on June 26th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 3 comments

By guest blogger BOB FERGUSON

That loud clucking noise you can hear is the sound of chickens coming home to roost. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has turned over a rock and found a mess of repellant practices that should have the care home sector hanging its collective head in shame. But the day of reckoning could be nigh.

Not least for providers that exploit self-funders – robbing Peter to pay for Paul, while keeping Peter in the dark, is just one example. If, like me, you have come across pathetic attempts to justify “cross-subsidies” by citing differential pricing for airline seats and hotel rooms, you too may have wondered how holiday jaunts can be compared with once in a lifetime decisions, typically taken at a time of crisis.

While the sector frets about the detrimental effects of unfavourable quality ratings, it … Read More »


Crisis, what crisis?

Posted on June 19th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

The news that there has been a drop in the numbers of nurses from the European Union registering to work in Britain caused consternation in mid-June when the Health Foundation published comparative figures for July 2016 and April 2017. On reflection though, there are three words in that sentence which need qualification – ‘news’, ‘drop’ and ‘consternation’.

Is this statistic really ‘news’, in the sense of being information which we didn’t have before, which is unexpected, which comes across as new? In reality it hardly fits any of those criteria. The UK has long depended on recruitment from overseas to make up for the shortfall of British candidates for the nursing profession, and since 2008 the majority of international nurses registering in the UK have come from other EU countries. So no-one should really be surprised that … Read More »


No more fudges please

Posted on June 12th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

A few blogs ago I opined that social care would not figure as a key issue in the general election. Well, I was wrong, but who could have predicted that the Tories would be so ill-advised as to make it part of their manifesto in such a cack-handed way?

Still, it was right up there alongside Brexit and the NHS, and that’s good news for the sector as social care will not now be easily relegated to its former corner of the ‘issues to dodge’ box. As the sun sets on the current administration, perhaps we should be grateful that, in proposing a £100k asset threshold while at the same time extending the means test to include homecare, and then hurriedly tacking-on an unspecified cap to an individual’s liability, future governments have been given a pretty clear … Read More »


All change – for more of the same

Posted on June 5th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on All change – for more of the same

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

On Thursday this period of political and economic instability, called into being by the current government in a moment of weakness, will draw to a close as some of us trot off to our polling stations. Then our votes will be totted-up to determine which mainstream minority gets to drive the bus for the next few years.

Whatever the election result, there doesn’t appear to be much optimism in the social care sphere: regulation shows no sign of being reined-in and manifesto pledges on funding amount to little more than well-hedged promises of some action at some point, and even if positive steps were taken to train more nurses it’s pretty clear there will be no short term fix to the problem of recruitment.

Meanwhile the sector continues to haemorrhage beds. Last week Radio 4’s Eddie Mair interviewed … Read More »


Any takers for ‘Carebnb’?

Posted on May 30th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Any takers for ‘Carebnb’?

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

When I was a lad in North Yorkshire in the 1960s, social care was much more of a cottage industry than it is now. Several of my playmates had their granny or grandad being looked after in their front room on a day bed.

Doesn’t happen much nowadays, partly because people are living to such an age that it would be great granny or great grandad on the day bed, with four generations making up the household – you’d need a very big house.

But so many cottage industries have gone; no one spins or weaves for piece rates any more, and we don’t hear of people handmaking flights for arrows or whittling gads for roof thatching. But small-scale enterprise still thrives, new cottage industries have evolved, especially in hospitality and catering, viz. Airbnb, ‘pop-up’ restaurants, coffee-shops … Read More »


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

Posted on May 22nd, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on 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 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 »



Latest blog posts

Betrayers of self-funders’ trust?

By guest blogger BOB FERGUSON

That loud clucking noise you can hear is the sound of chickens coming home to roost. The Competition and Markets...

Crisis, what crisis?

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

The news that there has been a drop in the numbers of nurses from the European Union registering to work...

No more fudges please

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

A few blogs ago I opined that social care would not figure as a key issue in the general election....