The thirst for information in an uncertain world

If only I had known….was the title of a Care & Repair England initiative some years ago. It offered housing and care options information and advice to older people in health care settings such as hospitals. That very phrase was one that older people and their families had used so often when talking to an adviser about what to do next with regard to living in the current home, adapting it, moving and/ or finding care and support.

With the Care Act implementation just weeks away, there is an even greater need for clarity about what people might expect of the care system, how much they will have to pay and how, for home owners, their housing equity will be treated.

We welcome the BBC’s ‘cost calculator’ as a useful step in enabling people to understand what the changes might mean for them in cash terms. However, there is still an enormous need for one to one advice to enable people to make fully informed decisions about where they live and their possible options. With 65% of people over 75yrs never having used the internet (ONS Data), and many without family or friends to help, that human conversation, over the phone or in person, is critical.

Which is one reason that we are so pleased to be able to work with EAC FirstStop to support local ‘Housing and care options’ services, utilising another year of invaluable funding from DCLG  In their first 15 months the 15 local pilot projects helped nearly 30,000 older people, whilst the national EAC FirstStop website has millions of hits every year, and their phone line never stops.

Unfortunately, this week we heard there is one part of the country where older people will not have access to the advice and practical help with their housing that they so need.  South Gloucestershire council pressed ahead with its massive cut to the West of England Care & Repair service. Agency of the year in 2014, Care & Repair is a pioneer in its field, bringing enormous benefits both to individuals and to the local economy. Sad news indeed.

Reflections by the CEO of Care & Repair England, Sue Adams, [February 2015]