Free social care

Categories: Care.

Organisations with a special interest in end of life care have formed an alliance to call on the Coalition Government to provide social care free at the point of delivery for people approaching the end of life.

The call reflects a shared recommendation by the Dilnot Commission (2010) and the Palliative Care Funding Review (2011) to give people in the last 12 months of life access to social care free at the point of delivery. The commission and the review recognised the transformative impact that this would have on end of life care in England.

The government and opposition have both been supportive of this recommendation. The government’s care and support white paper, which provides a vision for the future of social care in England, stated that the government saw ‘much merit’ in the provision of free social care for people approaching the end of life. 

The draft care and support bill would enable social care to be provided free at the point of delivery across the country. However, much work is needed to make sure that free social care for people approaching the end of life becomes government policy. 

Free social care

Help the Hospices, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Sue Ryder understand the role of effective social care in supporting people to be cared for and die in a place that provides them with comfort and sense of control. Without appropriate social care, too many people are unable to return to their preferred place of death, which explains why so many people continue to die in hospitals despite this being the least preferred place. 

The End of Life Care Strategy recognised the importance of social care as well as healthcare to improving end of life care in England. The strategy led to the establishment of the National End of Life Care Programme which, unlike any other Department of Health body, took a joined-up approach to driving improvements across health and social care. 

The Nuffield Trust has also conducted research which suggests that improvements in social care for dying people would lead to lower costs by reducing the burden on the NHS.

The Palliative Care Funding Review pilot sites, which were established in 2012 across England, were expanded and supported with additional funding so that they could also collect data on health and social care for people in the last 12 months of life. This data will, in part, be used to assess the viability of providing free care.

More information

You can support the call for free social care by taking action. Find out more on Help the Hospices, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Macmillan Cancer Support and NCPC websites .

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