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Rowntree research proves free personal care must be introduced now - McCarthy

February 3, 2006 9:13 AM

Alliance Health Spokesperson Kieran McCarthy has said that research by the Joseph Rowntree Trust proves the big four parties in the NI Executive should have introduced free personal care for the elderly when they had the chance.

Alderman McCarthy stated: "When I was in the Assembly I called on the big four parties to make it a clear policy that they would introduce free personal care for the elderly. That was the time to do it.

"The Rowntree research shows that the cost of introducing free personal care has been minimal in Scotland, yet to do so now would be more complicated than when we had the chance four years ago.

"The other parties failed us then, and should be judged on that record. Now the case for introducing free personal care is even more urgent, as the complexities of the issue mean drafting the legislation would take some time.

"The elderly in our society have for far too long been taken for granted. We must address this, and other issues affecting the elderly including fuel poverty and personal safety, responsibly and urgently. This is no time for hypocritical platitudes."

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The Rowntree Trust statement:

ROWNTREE TRUST PRESS STATEMENT

01 Feb '06 [Abridged - full statement via www.jrf.org.uk]

Scotland's 'fairer care' system for older people holds important lessons for the rest of the UK

Scotland's go-it-alone policy of providing free personal care for older people at home and in residential and nursing homes has created a fairer system without undue extra public spending. Older people who use care services and their families feel that the arrangements introduced in 2001 are more equitable and an improvement on the past, as do social care

managers in Scottish local authorities and care home providers, according to an independent assessment carried out for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

And while free personal care - such as help with washing, dressing and grooming - has reduced means-testing and money worries for older people with modest means, it has not led to a feared reduction in informal support provided by relatives and friends. Researchers from the University of Stirling, who organised group discussions with older people and their relatives, indicated that free personal care at home had helped informal carers by allowing them more time to carry out other, less hands-on support tasks.

An economic analysis included in the report shows that the current annual cost of £140 million takes 0.6 per cent of the Scottish Executive's total £25 billion budget, so only makes a marginal impact on other areas of public spending.

ENDS

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