The Salvation Army is there for people during a crisis – when a family needs a food parcel, when an unemployed person needs help into work, when a man or woman has been freed from modern slavery – we do all that we can to help.
In many ways entry into residential care can be just as traumatic for an older person and their loved ones. A recent stay in hospital, the prospect of leaving the family home, worries about care quality – these circumstances should not be underestimated and can easily turn into an emergency when financial issues become apparent. People are often shocked to learn that care in old age is not free, and this revelation frequently comes at a time when they are already pressured and ill-equipped to cope. It is at this point – when tough decisions have to be made – that many older people and their families and friends first come into contact with us.
The Salvation Army believes that every single person has inherent worth. This does not vary with age, income, capability, family connections or any other variable. Our aim is to ensure that the final chapter of life is good with positive memories, upheld by dignity and respect through to the very end[i]. Therefore, we ensure that every older person in our care receives the same exceptional physical, mental and spiritual care.
We are seeking to re-frame the debate on the future of adult social care to focus sharply on the needs of the poorest older citizens in our society. It is our conviction that compared to their more affluent peers, the challenges they face have been under-represented of late. We must recognise that the gap between the richest and poorest is increasing, with more and more people unable to provide for themselves in later life. This is not acceptable.
The Salvation Army asks the Government, in their forthcoming Adult Social Care Green Paper, to explicitly recognise the needs and worth of those accessing Local Authority care, who do not own their own home, have limited resources and may need to pay top-up fees. A paper that repeats the assumptions of the Dilnot Review, by not recognising the challenges faced by these people, will simply not be good enough. We therefore recommend that this Government reforms adult social care funding so that it reflects the true cost of care, especially for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable older people.
We welcome the opportunity to engage with the Government at this crucial time.
Lieutenant Mark Scoulding
Public Affairs Team, The Salvation Army United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland
[i] Find our positional statement on older people at www.salvationarmy.org.uk/positional-statements.