Better care for older people

The fact that people are living longer is something we should celebrate! But it brings challenges for families, businesses, public services and public attitudes towards the way older people are seen and treated.

Labour’s got a good record of helping older people in Leicester West: Winter Fuel Payments of £250 for every household with someone over 60 years old, and £400 for every household with someone over 80 years old; Free TV licenses for the over 75s worth £142 a year; and free bus passes and free entry to leisure centres for older people.
The improvements in our local hospitals, which older people are much more likely to use, have also made a huge difference. The maximum wait for an operation is now 18 weeks – with average waits much shorter – compared with up to 18 months for cataract operations and hip replacements when Labour was first elected.

Yet I know from first hand experience that too many older people still aren’t treated with dignity and respect by some of our public services. Older people and their carers are often worried about asking for help and scared that if they stop being able to cope, they’ll end up having to sell their home to pay for long term care.

I want to see much more progress in shifting the focus of NHS and social care services towards prevention and early intervention, so that we help older people stay healthy and living independently for longer. A really important challenge is to make much faster and bigger improvements to dementia services.

I’m also championing a new National Care Service, to go alongside the National Health Service, to make sure all older people get the care and support they need. I welcome Labour’s plans to offer free personal care at home for older people with the greatest needs, as a first step towards achieving this goal.