Welcome to MHA's monthly bulletin, bringing you highlights of policy and research news in February relevant to older people and MHA. It offers a snapshot of emerging policy thinking, research and legislation to help you stay informed.

Policy and research overview for February 2015:

  • Care Act funding reforms - the Government's consultation on changes to the way social care is funded is now out
  • Election manifesto indications so far for older people 
  • Dementia challenge to 2020

In February, MHA has ...

  • been working hard to prepare for the Care Act 2014.
  • Our working group, led by Carol Artis, Director of Care Homes, is working through the implications and opportunities for MHA of the Care Act and its funding reforms.
  • This includes preparing information and communications for our staff, residents and their families as well as identifying any training implications arising from the Act. 


1. Social Care                                                  

 Care Act - consultation on changes to the funding of social care from 2016  

The Government is consulting on proposals to change the way care and support is paid for from April 2016.

The Government is proposing:

  • a cap on care costs of £72,000 - this would place a limit on the costs of care that people will face to meet their eligible care and support needs. 
  • that the cost per week to calculate progress towards the cap is the amount that the local authority is prepared to pay for care
  • that the cap applies to the costs of care, not daily living costs, since people will face daily living costs regardless of where they live.

The Government is also proposing to extend the amount of means tested financial help available to people to help with the costs of care. This is intended to help people to retain more of their assets and ensure that more people will receive help with the costs of their care from the state.

And the Government is seeking views on what sort of appeals arrangements should be in place to allow individuals to challenge decisions made by local authorities under the Care Act.

The Government's consultation runs until 30 March 2015. MHA is currently preparing a response to the consultation. If you would more information about this, please email liz.jones@mha.org.uk

For more information on what else is in the Care Act, please see the Government's range of factsheets.                      


2.  Health Care

Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia 2020

The Prime Minister has announced a new long term strategy on dementia focused on boosting research, improving care and raising public awareness about dementia. This includes:

  • £300m investment into UK research & medical innovation in tackling dementia
  • Establishing an international dementia institute in England within 5 years, helping to make the UK a world leader for research on dementia 
  • Doubling the number of people taking part in dementia research, with the launch of a new online and telephone service this month to do this 
  • Launch of a separate multi-million pound fund to unite investors from the private, public and philanthropic sectors to help establish a single international investment scheme to discover new drugs and treatment for dementia
  • Training for all NHS staff in dementia (approximately 1.3 million people) so that they have the know-how and understanding to provide the best possible standards in care
  • 3 million more Dementia Friends - these are people from all walks of life who are trained to understand dementia and how to best support people who may have the condition
  • Many more dementia friendly communities by 2020 - the aim is for the majority of people in England to be living in towns & cities which are much more accessible to people with dementia
  • Faster initial dementia assessments, with a commitment that people exhibiting signs of dementia should be seen by a medical expert within an average of 6 weeks.
  • A greater focus on the support given to people following their diagnosis such as giving people with dementia better information about the services available locally, as well as advice and support for carers.


3.  Regulation

CQC information about the use of hidden cameras in care homes 

The Care Quality Commission has published  information for families, carers and those who use health and adult social care services to help people make appropriate decisions on the use of hidden cameras, or any type of recording equipment, to monitor someone's care.

You can find out more in the recent MHA blog from our Director of Quality on this issue.

CQC guidance issued on the fundamental standards

The CQC has published new guidance on how health and social care providers in England can meet the Government's new care regulations. The new regulations - called the fundamental standards - will take effect from April. This guidance is intended to help providers understand what to do to meet the new standards and what enforcement powers are available to CQC if the fundamental standards are not being met.

Charity Commission welcomes Parliamentary support for stronger powers

The Charity Commission welcomes the recommendations for it to have additional powers to improve its ability to protect charities from harm. The report from the cross-party Parliamentary Committee appointed to scrutinise the Draft Protection of Charities Bill suggests that the Commission should have new powers to prevent individuals disqualified from trusteeship from assuming another position of power within a charity and to prevent charities that are the subject of statutory inquiries from taking certain actions.

These recommendations seek to fix current anomalies in the draft Bill which mean that, for example, individuals with convictions for money laundering or terrorism-related offences are free to serve as charity trustees.


4.  Housing

 Changes to the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) Regulatory Framework

The HCA has strengthened the requirement for registered housing providers to ensure they effectively manage risk and do not  undertake activities that put social housing assets at risk. As part of this, providers will have to maintain a register of of their social housing assets and liabilities and subject their business plans to 'stress testing'. The HCA has also issued a Code of Practice to support sound governance. 

For MHA, this means that we have to keep a list of our social housing assets and ensure that the MHA Housing Association Board receive relevant information to ensure that these assets are managed in a way that promotes social housing and protects the social housing grant investments.


5.  Research

£30m research collaboration to tackle Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's Research UK has announced a £30m Drug Discovery Alliance, launching a network of 3 new Drug Discovery Institutes at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and University College London. They will pool their expertise to collaborate on fast-tracking treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

Top tips on delaying dementia from the Director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University

Professor June Andrews heads up the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling which works to get the information about delaying dementia or diminishing the symptoms to those who need it.

She has published a book called Dementia: The One-Stop Guide as part of their 25th anniversary project to find out what people need to know and make that information available as easily as possible. It includes top tips on how to minimise the risks of dementia for the over-50s.


6.  Politics

Election countdown - what are the emerging manifesto indications for older people? 

With fewer than 70 days to the General Election, whilst we await the publication of the election manifestos, the main parties are starting to indicate some of their emerging election commitments of interest to older people.

The 'triple lock' on pensions

  • The Conservatives have indicated their continued commitment to maintain the 'triple lock' system which ensures the state pension goes up by whichever is higher - inflation, wages or 2.5%.
  • Indications from Labour and the Liberal Democrats also suggest they too support this in principle. 

Pensioner benefits

  • The Conservatives have committed to maintain universal pensioner benefits such as  the winter fuel allowance and free TV licences for all pensioners.
  • Labour say they will remove the winter fuel allowance from the richest 5% of pensioners.
  • The Liberal Democrats say they will withdraw eligibility for the winter fuel allowance and free TV licences from the wealthiest 5% of pensioners.

  Health and social care

  • The Conservatives say they will:
    • protect and ring fence spending on the NHS with real terms increases across all 5 years of the next parliament,
    • invest to keep GP surgeries open 12 hours a day, 7 days a week by 2020 
    • pledge a real terms increase of £2bn for the NHS for the next 2 years, as set out in the Autumn Statement
    • recruit 5000 more doctors
    • ensure everyone has access to a named GP
  • Labour have published their 10 year plan for the NHS, which promises:
    • to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012
    • 20,000 more nurses, 8000 more GPs, 3000 more midwives and 5000 more homecare workers to be funded by a £2.5bn Time to Care Fund.
    • to integrate health and social care into a single service and end 15 minute care slots
    • to guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hrs or the same day if needed
    • to invest in young people's mental health services and create a new right to talking therapies
    • to introduce limits on salt, sugar & fat in food marketed to children, limit low-cost, high-strength alcohol products & ensure 2 hours PE per week
  • Liberal Democrats:
    • health is confirmed as one of five policy priorities to feature on the cover of the Liberal Democrats' general election manifesto.
    • pledged to invest an extra £8 billion a year in the NHS by 2020.
    • pledged a real terms increase of £2bn for the NHS for the next 2 years, as set out in the Autumn Statement
    • £500m extra for mental health services
    • a fundamental review of the NHS prior to the spending review in 2015

More time for the over 65s to buy the hugely popular 65 plus pensioner bonds

A government-backed pensioner bond offering competitive rates of up to 4% interest is to be offered for a further three months till 15 May 2015. The scheme is aimed at those aged 65 or above who have at least £500 to invest and want a guaranteed rate of interest.

The one-year bond pays an annual interest rate of 2.8% before tax, and the three-year bond pays 4% before tax. Interest will be added on each anniversary after investment. Investment is limited to £10,000 in each bond, making a maximum of £20,000 per person.


7.  Other News

2014 Your Care Rating results - MHA achieves 97% satisfaction rating


MHA has achieved a 97% overall satisfaction score for the 2014 Your Care Rating survey. The independent national poll asks care home residents to rate their homes for a number of criteria relating to staff, care and everyday living. In addition, 98% of MHA residents said their home was a safe and secure place to live, and 97% said staff treated them to kindness, dignity and respect.

Read more about the results in the recent MHA blog from our Director of Care Homes.

Health devolution for Greater Manchester 

Greater Manchester is to become the first region to get full control over its health spending. From April 2016, control of the £6bn NHS budget and powers over health, social care, GP services, mental health services and acute and community care will move to the area's 10 councils and 12 clinical commissioning groups, and then ultimately the elected mayor in 2017. NHS national standards will remain in place. The hope is that this will deliver truly integrated health and social care services to create a healthier Greater Manchester.


If you have any feedback that will help us improve our MHA Policy News, please tell us -  liz.jones@mha.org.uk.


Liz Jones

Head of Policy and Research at MHA

Tel: 01332 221921

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