A strong majority of the British public believes that Britain as a nation does not do enough to care for the elderly, our survey has revealed, while over half of Brits thinks that the Government should bail out struggling care home company Southern Cross to ensure its homes do not have to close.
While half of people admit that if an elderly relative required care they would not look after them in their in their own home, when asked if they would be prepared to pay more money in taxation if it was guaranteed to fund free care for the elderly, more than half of Brits also conclude that they would.
It must be said, however, that despite concerns about the overall level of care, nearly seven in ten of those asked who have had personal experience of an elderly relative being cared for in a home say they are generally satisfied with the level of care their family member received.
- 77% of people believe that Britain as a nation does not do enough to care for the elderly
- Just 15% think that the nation does the right amount look after senior citizens
- 49% of people say that if they had an elderly relative who required care they would not care for them in their own home (32% say that they would)
- Over half of those asked (51%) said they would be prepared to pay more money in taxation if it was guaranteed to be used to fund free care for the elderly
- 57% of people think that the Government should only pay the cost of care for the least well off, and people with income or assets over a certain level should pay the whole cost of their care
- 26% of people would raise the asset threshold at which people would have to pay for their own elderly care from the current £23,000 to £50,000
- Nearly one in five people (17%) would place the figure at more than £100,000 and 12% at £100,000
- Nonetheless, 68% of those who have had personal experience of an elderly relative being cared for in a home were satisfied with their care (28% were not)
- And 52% think the Government should bail out Southern Cross, the UK’s largest care home, to prevent it from bankruptcy
Bailing out Southern Cross
Our poll results clearly indicate a strongly held belief that the Government could and should do more to help the nation’s elderly. This comes as the UK’s largest care home company Southern Cross recently announced it is in ‘critical financial condition’ after suffering half year losses at £311 million, and BBC programme Panorama uncovered several cases of serious abuse taking place at another now-closed care home, Winterbourne View, in Bristol.
Southern Cross, not connected with Panorama’s allegations, currently looks after over 30,000 people in 750 care homes across the country. More than half of people in our poll think that the Government should provide public funds to Southern Cross to prevent it from going bankrupt if the company’s situation worsens.
This puts the public in overall agreement with delegates at the recent GMB union's annual conference in Brighton, who showed their support for a motion calling on the Government to aid the struggling company. The motion asked, ‘Who has the ultimate responsibility for the 31,000 elderly and vulnerable residents and who has the power to end the uncertainty for them and their families?’
It continued, ‘[The] Government must immediately appoint a cabinet minister charged with ensuring a continuity of care for the 31,000 residents of Southern Cross and guarantee that no homes close and no resident is turned out or forced to move against their will.’