New research has revealed that nearly two out of three over-75s say they are more likely to avoid moving to care homes following the coronavirus crisis.
An estimated 30,000 care home residents have died during the pandemic so far, sparking a row in recent days between the Government and care providers over who was to blame.
Failings included transferring patients out of hospitals without testing for the virus and lack of adequate protective equipment for staff.
There was already a rising trend since 2012 for people to say they would try to ensure their care needs were met in their own homes, according to an annual report by financial service firm Just Group. Just Group's care report drew on findings from two surveys of people aged over-45, one in February and the other in May.
In a Just Group survey in May, 48 per cent of over-45s said the Covid-19 crisis made it more likely that they would try to ensure they received care in their own homes, rising to 64 per cent among those aged 75-plus.
The study also reported that 56 per cent of over-45s believe that delays to reforming social care hampered the response against Covid-19.
Financial incentive to stay in own home
There is a financial incentive to do this, because people's own homes are excluded from means tests until they move to residential care accommodation.
Some 75 per cent of over-45s think that the Government should foot the bill if someone needs care but is unable to afford it.
A cap on care costs is the most popular funding option, with 58 per cent of over-45s supporting it - an all-time high - and 65 per cent of over-75s
In a case study on whether someone with a £500,000 home but no other assets should have care costs reclaimed from its eventual sale, 52 per cent thought it would be fair to reclaim some proceeds, 11 per cent thought it fair to take them all, and 37 per cent thought it was unfair.
Promise of reform but no delivery
Stephen Lowe, group communications director at the firm, says: 'Later life care has for years been the elephant in the room for families – an issue they have found easier to ignore than address.
The Conservatives offered a 'guarantee' in their manifesto that no one needing care will have to sell their home to pay for it and promised to make an urgent attempt to build a cross-party consensus with this as a condition.
'Politicians are reinforcing this by promising reforms but never delivering.
'In the wake of coronavirus, we desperately need our policymakers to reinvigorate the debate and to lead the way towards a system that helps people look ahead with confidence rather than trepidation.”
He adds: 'The big question going forward is whether coronavirus will be a catalyst for change or an excuse to kick the can down the road yet again.'
Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, says finding a sustainable solution to social care funding is 'extremely overdue' and needs proper consultation to ensure widespread public buy-in.
'With those in care homes being amongst the worst affected by the Covid-19 crisis, it’s imperative that the Government tackles the longstanding issue of how to find a sustainable and fair means of funding social care, guaranteeing our most vulnerable elderly dignity in later life.
'This is likely to require a sharing of costs between the Government and individuals, based on their wealth. What’s vital is that people have certainty over what they’ll be expected to contribute so they can plan ahead and protect their inheritance aspirations.'
There is little doubt that the coronavirus has increased the resistance of older peole moving into care homes. Research carried out by the Just Group confirms that the over 75s are more likely to avoid moving to care homes. The failure of the government to act on promised reform has exacerbated the situation. Unless we see more urgent action, we will experience an increasing number of care homes going to the wall.
We need urgently to find a fair means of funding social care that helps people look ahead and plan for the future.
Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy