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LTC system is incoherent and needs reform, says Rowntree

The system for paying for long-term care is unfair and incoherent, according to a discussion paper by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

It calls for a debate on how to share the costs of long-term care to meet the needs of an ageing population.

The paper, Facing the Cost of Long-term Care, suggests that the present system is unsustainable because it does not provide clear-cut guides as to the entitlements of people requiring care and does not present a generally accepted set of rules about how much they should contribute according to ability to pay.

Options for a reformed system, according to report author Donald Hirsch, who is a special adviser to Rowntree, include paying for residential and nursing care according to diagnosed condition. There are also anomalies such as people with dementia who need a lot of help with daily tasks may receive little or nothing because they do not need nursing.

Hirsch advocates limiting the extent to which people are required to use the proceeds of selling their homes before they are eligible for local authority help with care costs.

Rowntree says the number of people aged over 80 will double in the next 30 years.

Hirsch says: “In the next 50 years, we will have to spend four times as much on long-term care. If we keep our present system of public funding, most of the increase will fall on individuals.”

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