Neighbours must help elderly more - Norman Lamb

Elderly hand holding coins Ministers are considering a cap on social care fees

Related Stories

People should do more to help elderly neighbours and ease the pressure on care homes, the care minister has said.

Greater community support would prevent pensioners living a "dismal existence" and going into care unnecessarily, said Norman Lamb.

He told the Daily Telegraph local councils should be helped to rebuild a "neighbourly resilience".

He also said a deal to cap personal spending on care fees would be unveiled in coming weeks.

The cap was a key recommendation of the government-appointed Dilnot Commission report into care in England, which said it should be set at between £25,000 and £50,000, with £35,000 the fairest figure.

But when the social care white paper was published during the summer, there was no commitment on the cap. However, it is understood that in recent weeks senior members of the government have begun discussing the merits of a cap again.

But Mr Lamb warned that any new cap was "not a panacea", and more needed to be done to prevent so many elderly people going into care at all.

He also warned that a limit "does not remove all financial pressures", saying that people would still have to pay for the residential component of living in a home.

Too many pensioners are being pushed into care when more could be done to keep them at home, living independent lives, said Mr Lamb.

"We all have a part to play. In this way, we can make the system sustainable, and it can be a more decent society, a less neglectful society than we sometimes experience where we just expect the state to do everything," he said.

"With the right support and the right community resilience, and a rebuilding of the neighbour support that used to be there, more people could stay in their own homes for longer.

"We have lost the extended family because families have become dispersed. We need to rebuild that neighbourly resilience that helps people stay independent.

"If someone is living on their own never seeing anyone, that is a dismal existence, and it often ends up with it all collapsing and them going into a care home."

Local authorities should play their part, he said, pointing to a system in Leeds where residents, including the elderly, can control public money to adapt their homes to help them live independently.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More UK stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • BlueNew blue

    Meet the artist, showman and inventor who created a colour that had never existed before

Programmes

  • Stranded shipThe Travel Show Watch

    Stranded in the icy Northwest Passage where only the polar bears move freely

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.