Scottish Government - Free Personal Care Feasibility Study
Alzheimer Scotland responded to the Scottish Government's invitation to contribute to their feasibility study about the extension of Free Personal Care to people aged under 65.
Summary of Response
Alzheimer Scotland highlighted its support for the introduction of free personal care for people under the age of 65. Additionally, we explained our work to ensure that people of any age who have advanced dementia have their needs recognised as healthcare needs and do not have to pay any social care charges, a key recommendation from our Advanced Dementia Practice Model. Further, we noted that over the past year we had been working to develop the arguments to support the case for change and would continue to do so throughout 2017.
Opportunities and benefits of Extension
Alzheimer Scotland articulated that we believes that as people over 65 receive free personal care to assist them are supported to realise their rights and live well in society through the provision of various supports and provisions, it is iniquitous that people under 65 are excluded from the same level of support based solely on their age.
In addition, Alzheimer Scotland highlighted that the improved quality of life experienced by the people supported and their carers meant that the provision of free personal care would be a good example of preventative spend. This would reduce the likelihood of an unplanned admission to care, the need for crisis interventions and, where a person has a progressive degenerative condition, could delay the need for a person to move into a residential care setting.
Challenges and Risks of Extension
Alzheimer Scotland noted that increasingly strict eligibility criteria for other services or the introduction/increase of charges for non-residential services was restricting access to supports. We expressed concern that if this policy is implemented without sufficient resource behind it, free personal care risked being restricted to only those with the most profound need. We highlighted that this approach would go against the numerous policy drivers from the Scottish Government which advocate early interventions and preventative spend, especially for people with dementia.
National vs. Local Criteria and Delivery
Alzheimer Scotland noted that the variation in local charging policies and eligibility criteria for social care services. In addition, we noted the lack of transparency in these policies making it difficult for people to work out what their care costs would be.
Additionally, we noted that recent policy developments in relation to social care demonstrated that the implementation of a national policy across all local authority areas was possible, with the Scottish Government and the Convention on Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) having made arrangements for raising the charging threshold in other contexts,