There is much written about the choices people have when it comes to accessing care services. Every service provider, commissioner and local authority wants to talk endlessly about how many options there are for a person needing services. However, what I think is lacking is the element of choice in how you pay for care.
Currently, there are two polarised positions. One is when you get funded by the state and usually there is not enough money to deliver the resources to meet people’s hopes and needs, and the second is when you are cast adrift by the system and told to fund everything yourself.
It is my belief that there is a third way and it is about mixing, matching and choosing how we fund care and increasingly putting the resources in the hands of the individual so that they can make informed choices and prioritise services that meet their needs.
I am of the opinion that if we have this mixed economy of care we will start to draw far more money into the care system because people will begin to use their own resources as a way of enhancing and improving the offering from the state. The funding position will be necessarily more complex, but it will also have more choice in it.
Individuals will decide whether to use the capital in their property, whether to devise methods where their assets can generate income, or indeed whether they want to go down the road of buying an annuity, insurance, or a financial product that will give them the money that will deliver more autonomy and better quality care.
I believe that we must start taking a fresh look at the issue of choice and we must ensure that both the services available and the methods of paying for them are flexible and enable people to make informed choices. There should be no ‘one size fits all’ in either service delivery or service resourcing. There must only be the right choice for the person receiving care.